On the Road Again

On July 14-15, the Fort Wayne Art Museum, with the help of some 200 artists, is transforming Main Street into an art gallery. But instead of canvases, the artists will be creating their works on the pavement?with chalk.

Robin VanLear

Armed with a box of 48 pastels, a T-shirt and bottled water, courtesy of the museum, eager artists will be covering their individual 8(-)x8(-)foot section of road in everything from famous masterworks to brightly colored flowers, fish or whatever else their muse inspires.

“I think of myself as an entertainer,” says artist Anna Arnold who participated in the event last year. “I like to make bright, colorful things for people to react to.” Arnold, who lives in Cleveland, is a veteran chalk artist who jumps at the chance to get out of her studio and interact with people. “People you wouldn?t think are interested in art were asking questions and telling us how beautiful our drawings were,” says Arnold. “I love being in an atmosphere where people are really excited about art.”

Artist Ricco Guerrero of Fort Wayne agrees. “I enjoyed the opportunity to be out there drawing and talking to people. And seeing the art encouraged others to go and register to do a piece of their own,” he says.

And whether you?re a professional artist or just want to have fun, working with chalk presents a variety of challenges. Both Guerrero and Arnold suggest bringing extra chalk, especially if you want to use a lot of one color. Smudging is another issue. “I?m inside my drawing walking around a lot,” says Arnold, “So I started using cheap hair spray to hold the chalk in place a little longer.”

For the museum, the Chalk Walk is a way to reach out to the community and its visitors—thousands of people are in town for the Three Rivers Festival the same weekend—and to stir their interest in the arts. “Families were gathering around oohing and ahhing and popping up chairs in the middle of the street,” says volunteer chair of the event Jane Applegate. “We had a total cross section of participants. Little kids barely walking all the way up to adults in their 70s were drawing with chalk,” she says.

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