For over 20 years now the Pasadena Chalk Art festival has been adding color to concrete walkways of Pasadena. This year marked the 22nd year of the festival and my 4th year as a participating artist–wow, times flies. Back in 2010 the festival was awarded the Guinness World Record for largest chalk-art festival in the world; that year, team Quezada (lead by Peter Quezada, and made up of family and friends) worked on three individual chalk art murals.
Each year, as a family and team, we select a topical artistry piece, something that reflects the current social climate– in the past we highlighted the British Petroleum Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This year we chose to honor the Granite Mountain Hotshots from Prescott Arizona. The memorial included a crying bald eagle, and a “Precious Moments” inspired firefighter. As an Angelino, I’ve seen my share of fires– from the Sayre fire, to the Griffith Park fire; in fact, one of my first youtube videos was a personal documentary of the Sayre fire, filming as it claimed acres of wild land. I have since continued creating ecological documentaries, my most recent was “Why We Climb” (The California Enviornmental Legacy Project). All of this said, I have a deep respect for womyn and men who choose firefighting as a line of service.
As an artist, constructing this memorial together was somewhat emotional. Throughout the process I had people, who I had never met before, approaching me and speaking about their experience with the Arizona fire that claimed the lives of 19 Hotshots– this casualty was the largest in recent history. As the mural became more vibrant, more colorful, more alive, firefighters; residents of Arizona; family members of Arizonians approached me to talk about the memorial and their connection with the fire. I have to confess, I was really moved to hear so many different stories– “my sibling lost her house,” “on behalf I the Pasadena Fire Department…,” “the Hotshots saved our house.”
As I mentioned, the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival is the largest in the world, and as such I was able to meet a plethora of talented artists–admiring their techniques, styles and messages. To work alongside such great people is really humbling and I look forward to future festivals.
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