In today’s world of imagination, chalk is now a popular tool of art whose diversity in color can trace a rainbow or paint a landscape with a vibrance to rival any work by Mother Nature.
It’s for kids.
It’s for teens.
It’s even for grownups who never lost their flare for creativity in the great outdoors.
In the eyes, ears and smiles of some, cement sidewalks and winding fitness trails never had it so good. And that’s why the artistic elite of the community — all ages and varying levels of talent — will convene Saturday on a section of the family-friendly Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway to help launch the inaugural “Chalk the Walk,” a fundraiser sponsored by the linear park’s Greenway Public Arts Committee.
Charged with the task last year of developing ideas — and designing ways to fund them — for bringing public art and a hint of interpretive culture to the Greenway, GPAC members set about their task immediately. In short time, the enthused group became long on initiatives but short on cash to pay for them. So, the committee sketched out “Chalk the Walk,” and here’s how it works.
To bring some color to the Greenway and using the fitness trail’s cement surface as its canvas, “Chalk the Walk” will be hosted along the section between the People for Care & Learning playground and Raider Drive. It’s in the same area as the Greenway’s first art exhibit, the big yellow chair known as “Sitting Tall,” the creation of local artist Josh Coleman — who is also a GPAC member.
The five-hour event will kick off at 10 a.m. and close by 3 p.m. After registration, all artists — young and old, short and tall, men and women, boys and girls, amateur and budding professionals — will be allowed to begin their chalk creations on a 5-foot by 5-foot block of Greenway cement. They must be completed by 2 p.m., at which time they will be directed to drop their chalk and step away from their art in order for judging to begin.
Gifts and prizes will be awarded in several categories, a few of which include “Best in Show,” “Judges’ Choice Award” and “People’s Choice Award,” among others.
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 earlier told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “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 be assigned to a spot and GPAC will make available chalk kits; however, artists are invited to bring their own. Entry fee is $10 per Greenway block of canvas.
Tara Brown, a well-known community volunteer who chairs the GPAC group on behalf of the Greenway board of directors, said “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.”
She added, “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.”
Although the Greenway has hosted a variety of events in its 11 years — ranging from road races to civic fundraisers to memorial walks — “Chalk the Walk” will become the first sanctioned festivity by the Greenway board or one of its committees. Proceeds from the event will be used to help fund future public art exhibits on the Greenway, as well as scholarships to encourage young artists and students of the arts.
The lighthearted day won’t be limited to chalk, concrete canvases and artistic rivals taunting their neighbors with open dares of “eat my dust.” Also on-site will be food and product vendors whose job will be to keep the throng of artists, their families and casual observers happy and nourished in eager anticipation of the early afternoon judging.
“I can’t say enough about the enthusiasm and work ethic of the members of GPAC,” said Cameron Fisher, Greenway board chairman. “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.”
Concrete spots on the Greenway are still available for budding artists. Space is still up for grabs for vendors and event sponsors. And, anyone wishing additional information about “Chalk the Walk,” or who would like to sign up for some canvas space or vendor spots, may do so by contacting McCullough using the email address of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although it’s a first-time event, organizers are encouraged by the community’s quick embrace of “Chalk the Walk,” Fisher explained.
Weather permitting, it should be an entertaining day chock-full of surprises with plenty of Kodak moments, the board chairman, and avid runner, expressed.
Any lessons learned will be chalked up to experience for next year’s second annual outdoor arts celebration.