When I think about temporary art spaces I think about sand sculpting, bubble blowing, and stone stacking, but more than anything I think about chalk art. Dick Blick has been the engine behind my passion, supplying amazing color pallets of chalk over the years. From the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival to the Sylmar Olive Festival to the Ventura Harbor and beyond, the pop-up art-spaces bring together an eclectic array of artists that can transform concrete into interactive walking spaces with larger than life art. Over the years I’ve created surreal watermelons, replicated cartoon icons, mandalas first in-studio, then on concrete. Perhaps, what is most appealing about chalking on concrete is that I know the completed work is nothing more than dust in the wind. Below are a few images from past chalking experiences.
Pasadena Chalk Festival 2010: This was my first experience in drawing with chalk on such a large scale– prior to 2010 I didn’t even know there was a Pasadena Chalk Art Festival. This piece was collaborative, Emilio Fabricio Montano, Josue Ishmael Montano, Diana Herrera and myself worked under the guidance of Peter Quezada– a long time Angelino muralist and environmentalist.
In 2010 British Petroleum had just spilled a massive amount of oil into the gulf of Mexico, causing (to put it lightly) a whole lot of damage to the area– to people and to marine life. The art piece we painted has the 1960s cartoon character Underdog emerging from oil-sludge that is being poured into the water by Simon Bar Sinister. The rendition of the piece presented Sinister as the head of P.B. (to the delight and amusement of festival goers). In reflecting on this piece I see where the collaborative process was used; although I drew much of the picture, the amount of detail that was present within image (drawn on a 10×10 slab of concrete) would not have been possible without assistance, feedback and guidance from Josue, Emilio, Diana and Peter.
In 2011 I returned to the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival, with the title “participant in the World’s Largest Chalk Art Festival” under my belt– thank you Guinness book of world records. In returning to the event had I also affirmed a new level of confidence within the art of chalk drawing and thus I decided to work on a solo piece. Emilio and Josue collaborated on a separate piece with Peter Quezada right next to me as we laughed and shared stories throughout the day.
The image that I selected was a replication of painting that I had created earlier during the year– which was similar in size to the one I chalked on concrete during the festival. My intention was to create an image that represented unity and communicated oneness. The result was the chalked piece that I have dubbed “(H)earth.” The image resonated with many festival goers and was included on the Pasadena Chalk Festival website the following year.
Bloggers and several photographers spoke to me about the piece and photographed me at various times through the creative process. In fact, the photo included in my post “An Angelino in Northern California” was shot by Chapman University photographer Sasha Netchaev. Upon completion of the chalk piece, I recall experiencing a sincere sense of bliss and joy.
In 2012 I found myself, once again at the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival, this time as a spectator– that didn’t last long. My brothers, Emilio and Josue were both working together on a chalk piece that I couldn’t help but contribute to. In this instance I was the assistant to the process and found myself sharing various techniques rather than drawing anything new.
The details of the buildings (“the lights” of the city scape) were my contribution to an original concept drafted by Emilio). As I watched the drawing come together I was simply glad to have been part of the creative process. One of the unforeseen challenges was the location for this exhibition. Strategic planning is needed when selecting an art site. While the store itself was vacant, it was near the stairwell to Paseo Colorado’s parking lot. Which meant lots of people walking by, and not everyone knowing that a chalk art festival was going. Lesson learned, one word: cones. Watch Emilio’s post festival wrap-up.
Flash forward to 2013 and I am in Pasadena once again, this time at the Rose Bowl for the Sunland / Tujunga Watermelon festival. In this instance my love for watermelons was fused with my passion for art as I drew abstract-surrealist melons. Edward Campos of Imagination Works was the collaborator in this process– his realistic renditions of watermelons complimented my own interpretation of watermelons.
It has been some three odd years since I was first introduced to the art of chalk drawing and looking back on what I have accomplished I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have grown. This growth has occurred because I have been willing to listen to others, to visualize my drawing before I even place chalk to concrete; and because I have been able to take the real/known experience and expand upon it– Sinister as B.P., Earth as a heart, and watermelon as a star. In any case, what I draw definitely resonates with others, I continually discover images and hear stories of this seemingly temporal drawings, somehow, someway, they have managed to outlast the sandblasting that occurs only hours after their completion.
My chalk piece at the 2013 Sunland-Tujunga Watermelon Festival caught the attention of Yale MFA Lauren Adolfsen, graphic designer and founder of Snack Mountain. Knowing that my chalk piece became an interactive experience for others is definitely an unexpected bonus. Be sure to check out her blog, she has an excellent smoothie recipe that will really make a great addition to your summer.
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