The Sarasota Chalk Festival included not only chalk art, but also graffiti, murals and live performances! Since there was so much art to see in the weeklong event, I've divided my blog coverage into 3 parts:
Here we go!
I was intrigued by the piece below because it was one of the few Asian-themed pieces at the Chalk Festival:
Australian artist Tony Flowers flew over for the event, and you can read his thoughts on here Chalk Festival experience on his blog: http://chalkflowers.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html. I was intrigued by his use of pan pastels, since most of the artists used soft pastels or chalk pastels.
Here's the finished artwork (note how he uses the grey of the pavement to "outline" the colors and designs, instead of using chalk):
Below you can see an in-progress view of one of the most colorful pieces at the Chalk Festival:
The colors on the finished piece were incredibly rich and vibrant. The pastels were laid on thickly, which gave the art an almost velvet-like visual texture.
Here are some progress photos of another one of my favorite pieces. Note how the artist progresses from darks to lights in the leopard's fur:
In the photo below you can get an idea of how she builds up the color and texture, adding light strokes over darker strokes:
And here's the finished piece:
This pirate chalk drawing was very cool:
In front of Whole Foods, this chalk drawing of a penguin was created to advertise the temporary penguin exhibit at Mote Aquarium:
One of the coolest events at Sarasota Chalk Festival was Madama Butterfly, performed by the Sarasota Opera in an outdoor set created by Michael Kirby. They gave 3 performances, each an hour long. We caught the evening performance, arriving about 45 minutes early to snag seats in the small set of bleachers that were set up in front of the stage. We were lucky because the bleachers filled up minutes after we sat down.
I'd never been to an opera before so I wasn't sure whether or not I would like it, but I absolutely loved it! I was very impressed with the vocal ability of the singers as they projected their voices with such strength and beauty, without needing microphones. It was also amazing to be so close! The outdoor atmosphere was terrific as well.
Another fun aspect of the Sarasota Chalk Festival was a 8000sq ft city block that was designated the "Little Chalkers" area. Chalk was provided for free for youngsters to express their creative spirits. They were given professional quality pastels to use rather than the usual sidewalk chalk, resulting in vibrant artwork:
Another fun drawing created by a Little Chalker:
Here's a view of the Little Chalkers area:
This year the Sarasota Chalk Festival also included graffiti and murals in a segment called "Going Vertical". Artists from around the world were invited to create "vertical art" on the sides of pre-approved buildings, with the understanding that the building owner would decide whether to keep the art (and for how long) or paint over it.
Graffiti is often a sore point in any community, and sadly it has also become a contested issue after the Chalk Festival ended. Some shop owners and residents fear that certain works of vertical art created during the Chalk Festival send the wrong message to the community, promoting vandalism and even gang violence.
Even though the artists meant no ill-intent with their images (and many hundreds of people proclaimed how much they liked the pieces), certain residents and shopkeepers have taken offense based simply on what the art looks like (subject and style), rather than trying to understand the work. They fear that since the art looks a certain way, it may inspire graffiti artists to illicitly tag their buildings as well as create an atmosphere conducive to crime.
For instance, there was a mural created by a German artist during the festival that I didn't get the chance to see because it was on the other side of town. Now, it's gone, having been whitewashed after a storm of controversy. (You can see the mural and read an article about it here.)
As an artist, I fear this may lead to a censorship of certain types of images. As a community member, I can understand the concerns of others, even if I don't fully agree. As a human being, I have my own set of likes and dislikes when it comes to art, so it can sometimes be difficult to separate my personal opinion on an artwork from the bigger picture. All in all, it is a tricky, multi-faceted issue with no easy solution!
Now, let's look at some art...
French artists Astro and Kanos introduced Sarasota to "Cellograff" art. They wrapped huge pieces of cellophane between poles and trees and spraypainted on the cellophane. I feel that this puts a positive spin on graffiti (by not illegally defacing buildings) and I like the ephemeral nature of the work. You can see more examples and read about their artwork on their website: http://www.cellograff.com/us/histo.html
They created this Cellograff mural at one of the entrances to the Chalk Festival:
Below is a mural created by multiple artists during the Chalk Festival:
Here is an in-progress view of another one of the murals (if you look closely, you can see the artist working on it!):
This is one of my favorite murals below, painted by Anat Ronen. Note the owl, which is painted, too!
Turning left there is another awesome mural on a neighboring building by Kobra: