There’s a certain type of nostalgia when one encounters a bucket of fresh chalk. Memories of pressing that dusty chalk into the hot concrete to create something only from your imagination, or standing up to reveal your hands and knees are covered in a muddy gray color due to your inability to choose just one color all seem to flood back just from the sight of those messy, vibrant pieces of chalk.
In Two Harbors, Minnesota on Saturday and Sunday, July 14th and 15th these memories came back to life at the Chalk.A.Lot festival. The streets next to Thomas Owens Park were littered with pieces of colorful chalk and some of those wonderful, imaginative drawings we all can remember creating. Along the sidewalks, was a different level of chalk art. Pictures of animals, people, and cartoon characters emerged from the ground in smooth, bright shades of color. People were caked in blues, greens, and purples from kneeling in the dust of their own pile of chalk to create the wonderful images.
Chalk.A.Lot started in 2012 by Michelle Gratton who was inspired to create the event by a similar type of chalk festival in Wausau, Wisconsin. Last year, the event was canceled due to the lack of assistance. This year, the event was back with artists lining the sidewalks with their tools and creative minds.
Each artist that registered for a square on the sidewalks were given a palette of vibrant pastels to create their images. Some artists brought their own materials and tools as well.
Some images resembled cartoon characters while others were realistic renditions of people and animals. Artist, Eric Klepinger was among the many creating a realistic scene. His image of a fawn curled up in a bed of grass looks as though you could reach down and pet it.
A group of girls across the street from Klepinger created some cartoon characters many of us have come to recognize. Their talent shined through their ability to create images that looked as if the original artist of the cartoons were right there.
In a large parking lot, featured artist, Truman Adams created a 3D scene of Candy Land. Large lollipops emerged from the ground that looked as though you could grab one and take it home with you. The final product was vibrant and imaginative as if you were actually one of the characters in the board game.
Among the artists were viewers eager to see just what these people could create, as well as enjoy the many other activities the festival had to offer. Music was performed in the bandshell, along with a silly puppet and a joyous clown in the park. There was an array of food and treats as well
The viewers seemed to be supportive and in awe of the creations their fellow community members could make. They gave out compliments and asked for photos and cheered on the artists hard at work.
The event was supported through the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council through the Rural and Community Art Project grant. This grant aims to support relevant, meaningful art activities with value to the community the organization serves. With all the support and connection between community members, Chalk.A.Lot certainly gave value and just a plain old fun weekend to its community.
The blistering hot day did not keep anyone away from enjoying the long-awaited Chalk.A.Lot festival to return. All in all, the festival was a great example of just how important art is to our communities. Chalk.A.Lot brought the whole town together to enjoy two days of pure creativity.