And that’s not an April Fool’s joke! It’s for real.
Billed as “Chalk the Walk,” this unique outdoor arts festival is the first time the Greenway itself has sanctioned a fundraising event that will benefit the four-mile fitness trail that now stretches from its southernmost point at Willow Street all the way north to Mohawk Drive.
For those who haven’t already done so, talented artists of all ages should begin sharpening their chalk. This colorful, and innovative, fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will take place near the playground at the former First Tennessee Bank location. Hopeful artists will be chalking their way to prizes along the Greenway stretch from the park to Raider Drive.
Here’s how it will work. The public “canvases” for “Chalk the Walk” will be 5-foot by 5-foot spaces marked off along the Greenway. In these spots, artists of all ages will use colorful chalk to create temporary paintings of just about ... anything. Chalk will be furnished, but participants are also invited to bring their own. These public displays of art are expected to remain on display for about as long as Mother Nature says so.
Cost of each space is $10. Proceeds from “Chalk the Walk” will help to establish a master plan for displaying permanent and temporary works of art in the public sector as well as grants and scholarships to attract local artists for exhibits that will be enjoyed by the community, according to event organizers.
“Chalk the Walk” is being coordinated by a group that understands chalk the most; well, not kids, although they are invited to sign up for the Saturday competition. The event is being planned by the Greenway Public Arts Committee, a group founded by the Greenway board of directors whose charge is to pursue art events and placement on the Greenway.
Anyone who has stopped by to sit in, stand atop, lean against or to photograph the big yellow chair — appropriately named “Sitting Tall” — recognize it as GPAC’s first contribution of public art to the Greenway. Created by the innovative mind of Cleveland artist Josh Coleman, “Sitting Tall” is on loan to the Greenway to help jump-start the GPAC campaign.
Joe McCullough, a GPAC member who brainstormed the idea of “Chalk the Walk” and who owns Theme Fusion, said the event is open to anyone who has an eye for art appreciation and how it can add to the already beautiful outdoors.
“Participation is open to any individual or group wishing to contribute regardless of age or skill level,” McCullough stressed. “No prior chalk art experience is required; however, every participant is encouraged to do their best and plan their space ahead of time.”
Each participant will receive an assigned section of the Greenway as their “canvas” and will be provided with chalk to produce their “masterpiece,” he explained. Prize money and gifts will be awarded for “Best in Show,” “Judges’ Choice Award” and “People’s Choice Award,” and several grade-specific prizes will be awarded to students and/or the schools they represent.
Tara Brown, another talented Cleveland volunteer who chairs the GPAC group, explained the history of “Chalk the Walk” and the rationale that brought it to fruition.
“‘Chalk the Walk’ grew from a desire to establish opportunities for cultural and artistic expression by local artists that amplifies outdoor experiences throughout our community,” Brown cited. “The Greenway is a perfect public space for creative display because it is a feature of our community that is available to everyone regardless of ethnic, economic or social status.”
Cameron Fisher, whose day job is at the Church of God International Offices but whose unofficial community nickname is “Mr. Cleveland” because of his strong sense of volunteerism and love for Bradley County, praised the efforts of the GPAC group whose members have already come up with plenty of artsy ideas for the Greenway. All they need now is the funding to make it happen.
“I can’t say enough about the enthusiasm and work ethic of the members of GPAC,” said Fisher, who chairs the Greenway board. “While there have been dozens of events staged on the Greenway since its founding more than a decade ago, this will be the first ‘official’ event sponsored by the Greenway. It is shaping up to be a tradition that will be anticipated every year.”
The five-hour event will feature food and product vendors who have signed up to accommodate the hundreds of artists and family members expected to attend “Chalk the Walk,” Fisher explained.
On-site registration will begin at 10 a.m. After registering, artists will be invited to begin their creative work, but at 2 p.m. the chalk must be dropped to allow the start of judging.
Three key reminders about the upcoming, and entertaining, event can’t be repeated enough, according to planners. One is that “spots” of concrete canvas are still available for participants; two, space remains up for grabs for vendors and event sponsors; and three, for more information or to reserve a spot or a space to participate, contact (Joe) McCullough by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To date, a lot of individuals of various ages have already expressed interest in “Chalk the Walk” participation. This includes many art students from area schools who are eager to display their talent and imagination.
Event planners stress all age groups are welcome to participate — kids, students and adults.
The “Chalk the Walk” rain date is Saturday, April 27.