Youth artist mentorship program gives local teens the opportunity to learn the business side of art

A local art mentorship program is helping local teens jump-start their careers in art. Now in its second year, the program is the result of a collaboration between New Century Art Gallery in Marine City and River Rec Teen Zone.

Artwork by Melissa Loxton.“The whole process is educating very talented young artists on what is needed to find success as a professional artist,” says Jeanne Burris-Johnson, owner of New Century Art Gallery. “We teach the students how to approach a gallery, price and take inventory of their art, and how to be able to profit off the work they have created.”

The program is an eight-month-long process that begins with students submitting their work to New Century Art Gallery to be juried and selected by seasoned local artists who mentor the students. This year, three teens were selected who had each developed their own unique style influenced by artists they admire, family, or life events, giving inspiration for the artwork they created.

Payten Danneels, 15, is a student at St. Clair High School whose artwork highlights family and friends that have impacted her life.

“I really became serious about art during the pandemic as my main hobby,” she says. “It was a nice distraction from what was going on.”

Artwork by Payten Danneels.

Laila Palumbo, 16, is also a student at St. Clair High School and says one of the biggest influences to her art was artist Bob Ross.

Artwork by Laila Palumbo.“I wanted to incorporate nature within my pieces, my crochet plants baskets represent the presence of nature,” she says.

Melissa Loxton, 16, is a homeschooled student who calls her unique handmade dolls “Twisted Stitch.” The collectible dolls have embroidery hoops incorporating multiple materials one being a flapper girl from the 1920s era.

“Art is something I have always enjoyed,” Loxton says. “My grandmother taught me about mixed mediums and that is how I learned about using different types of materials.”

The students’ art exhibition is currently on display at The Mariner located in Marine City at 430 S. Water St. The exhibit will run until June 30 after which the art will be available to purchase through New Century Art Gallery.
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Andrea Harrington has been a freelance writer for The Keel for many years and enjoys telling stories about the people and communities across the Blue Water Area. In addition to her work with The Keel, she also substitute teaches for East China and Algonac School Districts and offers creative marketing content working one-on-one with local businesses. She loves everything fall-related and in her free time, is an avid watcher of horror movies and enjoys spending time with her husband and Italian greyhound, Marchello. Contact Andrea at