Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
blows in on hot summer winds.
Forecast? Cold’s coming.
Every year my little burg celebrates the end of summer with a full tilt boogie sidewalk chalk art festival and founder’s day event. The local art gallery arranges to close off a couple of blocks of the main streets downtown (we are a smallish rural burg, after all, so we do what we want with our streets whenever we want to) and participants draw on the sidewalks. The sidewalks wrap around to the university campus a block away which holds a corn roast (lots of good food and pioneer-type events) in honor of the founders of the university.
The chalk art festival has evolved over the 13 years I have participated. Gallery volunteers used to go around the blocks marking the sidewalk squares with numbers the day before the event. The squares are sold along with a box of high quality pastel chalk to anyone who wants to play. In years past the squares were only available the day of the event and competition was tough at 8:00 in the morning with everyone vying for a premium square. I knew several people in charge of the event and I let them know my opinion by moaning and complaining about being able to pre-register instead of the mess at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning.
Several years back my little burg received a federal grant to re-do our downtown street sidewalks with a brickwork edge and little brass numbered circles in the concrete. Bricks were sold as an additional fund-raiser to support art in our community. Purchasers could have their names or the names of their business or both engraved in the bricks before they were installed in the sidewalk edging. Not only is it fun to look for names you know, the money went to make public art available for all to see.
A few years ago our little burg began a Wednesday Farmer’s Market, which closes the same parts of downtown on Wednesday afternoons, and it became quite easy to streamline the registering process and moved the vying for optimal squares to the Wednesday before the event. The people who run the event can guesstimate from pre-sales as to how many squares they will have to put chalk numbers on the Friday before. Yes, we have outgrown all the numbers on the installed brass numbered circles as the event grows every year.
I am not an artist. I’ve never had an art class in my life. I am a world class doodler, however, which gives me the illusion I can draw whatever I’d like. For me the chalk art event is about playing, about doing something out of my comfort zone, something visible to the community. And it’s about a platform, so to speak, an individual’s point of view.
When we first attended the son was smaller and we were poorer so I’d buy one square and we’d share. As we grew and I began making a little more money I’d buy two. I was clever a couple years in getting donations to our purchase by making the square an advertisement of sorts for the donator.
The son expressed frustration with his art and he began declining to participate when he was about 14, you know, that age when you are so self-conscious you don’t like people looking at you. He didn’t like my “art” either. Art does not have words in it, Mom, he’d say. Your message should be your picture, not your words.
My art is words. My artwork and crafts have always disappointed me. I understand his frustration. I have a picture in my mind of what I want to create and what comes out of my hands doesn’t match the picture in my brain. I think in pictures and words so both come out in my art.
Chalk art does not have to be perfect. It’s a sidewalk, for goodness sake; the sidewalk is never perfect; this canvas will never be smooth and easy to work on; the light changes throughout the day. Not all the squares are created equally; some have curves, or are smaller or larger than the standard; some have anomalies like street signs, or water mains, or bike corrals. The chalk is fine and breaks easily. That line may go off to nowhere when the chalk breaks mid-stroke. It matters not.
We have featured professional artists and their work is amazing. They know the techniques to make their pictures on any surface, smooth or rough. Many of us come to play, to advertize, to proselytize, some come to fantasize, to realize, or to eulogize; everyone comes for the fun.
I plan ahead a little and come up with some sort of idea of what I want to create, the message I want to send, the things I think other people should put into their what to think about list. The son says nobody gets my messages. Who is nobody? I don’t know anybody by that name. And yes, I like to do art that makes people think what does she mean with this picture and these words. While I am a complex person, I think most folks, given a minute or two, can “get” my “art” and appreciate the primitive complexity.
In the end though, it’s not about the message. It’s about the fun. Getting down on the ground like you are 6 years old again, drawing with messy chalk that gets in your hair and on your skin and clothes, making a picture out of joy for everybody to see. Everyone around you is doing the same messy joyful thing. And when we get done drawing we walk around admiring each other’s art and greeting friends from the community.
It’s getting harder each year to get down on the ground, crawling around on a hard, unforgiving concrete surface for a few hours to make my art. I experience pangs of jealous longing for my youth and the body used to being able to move any way you wanted to, the squatting and kneeling of days past. I do a really fancy dance getting back up, flopping onto all fours, getting one foot under me, three or four tries of lifting myself up in just the right way so a muscle doesn’t cramp, grabbing anything solid to help me gain a balance on the way up. What we do for art!
One more entry of temporary art was accomplished yesterday. It was a warm day from the start and in the upper 80s by twoish. A forest fire a few miles from town scented the air as we played with chalk and it was the topic of the day as most of us knew somebody who lived in the direction of the fire. The sun burned those of us who forgot our hats and long sleeves and sunscreen. Spray bottles brought by savvy players were used as much on people as on the art.
Besides a fun day to play together as a community this event generates funds to support public art in our community. And isn’t that what it is all about? It’s not about war and violence and bullying and hate, at least, it shouldn’t be; it’s about fun and playing and creation and loving each other. I like to think about art as creating love, even if your message is obscure or violent, about showing what is love even when you have to show the darkness.
See some of the colorful examples of sidewalk chalk art below in “Color Watch”.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – in case you were wondering there were portraits, characters, and faces;a clever use of an anomaly; still life; flowers; doodles; messages; animals; beauty; and an excellent trompe d’oeil koi pond. Found these brilliant orange Chinese lanterns in a lot next to some of the sidewalk squares, they make me think of my uncle’s garden and are a sure sign of the approaching autumn.
Currently Reading – One Kick (2014, fiction) by Chelsea Cain; The 48 Laws of Power (1998, psychology) by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers; The Fluoride Deception (2006, medical politics) by Christopher Bryson. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Warm days, and cooler evenings.
- Feeling the wind on my skin.
- Being able to walk.
- Being able to work.
- My aquatic center re-opening after three weeks closure for maintenance.
- The fragrance after an evening sprinkle dampened the soil and freshened the air.
- People who think kindly of me.
- Thinking kindly of others.
- Discovering a website for mental stimulation. As if I don’t read enough already, I want to improve what is left of my memory.
- My women friends who have survived breast cancer and take the time to walk in the Susan G Komen Walk for Breast Cancer.
- The adorable little waitress at the Chinese restaurant my friend and I went to the second time who remembered every detail of how we liked to be served, from just one previous visit!
- Being able to create one more chalk art.
- My niece and her family coming out to enjoy the chalk art festival and deciding to participate next year.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch