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Local high school students to be featured in New York Coffee Festival art exhibit

Two LaGrange art students’ work will be featured in an exhibition at the New York Coffee Festival this weekend at the Metro Pavilion.

Isabel Petrus, 15, and Maggie Blakely, 16, are two artists featured among 33 others in the coffee-themed exhibition. Art teacher and 809 Gallery owner Chris Hagebak said the two were among about 200 submissions for the festival’s exhibition.

“The theme of the exhibition is coffee,” Hagebak said. “Now, Maggie’s work is a charcoal, but it’s a charcoal (piece) that has a coffee theme to it. Isabel’s is actually painted in coffee.”

Petrus’ coffee art is a rendition of “Raising the Flag in Iwo Jima.”

“I wanted to [make] something a little more meaningful to everyone than just a coffee cup,” Petrus said.

Blakely’s charcoal piece depicts an old man holding a cup of coffee.

“I just like drawing people, and he was a pretty interesting looking dude,” Blakely said. “I’m pretty excited about going to New York. I’m glad that I got in. That was pretty cool.”

Both Blakely and Petrus have taken Hagebak’s classes since they were 10. Hagebak said this is the first time his students have taken part in a national exhibit.

“I was running around the house screaming when I found out they got in. I was like ‘this is so cool,’” Hagebak said. “I went to that exhibition last year, and they always have really cool, unusual artwork in the show. It makes me feel good that Isabel and Maggie standout.”

Petrus is a sophomore and is home schooled. Blakely is a junior at LaGrange High School.

Hagebak said the exhibition will be juried and there will be prizes for first through fourth place and a visitor’s choice award. Hagebak said the event is expecting 20,000 people to attend for the coffee festival.

The art exhibition is part of the Coffee Art Project, which will donate money to Project Waterfall, Hagebak said. Project Waterfall brings clean drinking water, sanitation and education to developing countries.

Hagebak placed second last year with a coffee painting of Petrus.

“I give them a lot of credit because this is something that takes skill and skill is something that you have to develop over time,” Hagebak said. “Isabel’s been very proactive about developing her skill.”