Chalk Art! (long post)

This year, once again, Imadon, Expressions in Chalk came to London, Ontario!  As soon as I heard about it I insisted we had to go.  Peter agreed and so we did.

I have been living in this area since ’94 and I have never heard of this particular event, let alone that my favourite city has a Performance Art Festival of this type and caliber.  Usually we do rock, jazz and food type festivals.  There are celebrations and protests (well, okay, one protest, can you guess which one?  Here’s a hint: It was last year.), and fundraisers.  I think there was a Busker festival once.  

There were small sections of work this time, thirty artists in total, which was apparently a new way for them to go about it:

NEW THIS YEAR: There are a total of 30 spots for artists . Artists chosen for the” Open Artist “category (max 20) will be paid $150 for their completed work along with the chance to win prizes. All submissions will be considered for the open category . Artists not selected for the open category but being eligible for youth and student age groups will then be considered for the 10 spaces available in these areas. 

This festival is run on donations, corporate sponsorship and the help of Koss,  (artist supplies, not stereo equipment), who sells them chalk at insanely low prices and allows them to sell boxes of chalk and keep the proceeds.  They use soft pastel chalk for two reasons – it’s easy to work with and the oil based chalk is, to quote Brad Harwood of Karma Productions  (an event coordinator/creator for Blues, Roots, Folk and Rock music) and head volunteer of this weekend’s festival, “Like crayons.”  He said it’d be near impossible to get the chalk off the streets.  Think about crayon on your walls, he said.  It just doesn’t come off.   At 6 p.m. yesterday evening, the last day of the event, the street cleaner came through and washed all the artists’ hard work into the gutter.  

Can you imagine working all day on pavement that was 50°C in 34ºC heat to create a massive work of art just to have it washed away?

Brad told me that they think street painting started in Italy in the 16th Century.  Artists who painted for the Church would then recreate those works on the street (in non-permanent materials) in hopes that rich people would walk by, see their work and commission them to do works inside their homes.  These street painters most often painted images of the Madonna in front of church steps on holy days.  Sometimes they wandered from town to town to do their street painting on holy days and during festivals.  They were most often called “Madonnari.”

I took a number of pictures but since I couldn’t get above them I couldn’t possibly do them justice.  And there was one I missed because it was designed as a 3D piece, to move as you looked at it but it was bisected by the shadow of a streetlamp.

I was in awe of the work done!  The artists are amazing.  The students in particular were fantastic, simply because of their ages.  There was one student-aged girl who blew me away.  She was accepted into the Open Artist category and I can see why.

Silly me forgot to ask the girl her name. But she’s just 18 and was one of the best I saw there.

There was also a very little girl, Natalie, 9 years old, who won Best Student, Honourable Mention.  She walked away stunned and thrilled, according to Brad.  And I could see why:

What could YOU draw at the age of nine?

The other student that blew me absolutely away was by Meaghan.  She just turned eighteen and was astonished by the awards she won.

She won Best In Show AND Artist’s Choice.

There is one that I thought is phenomenal in its dual complexity and simplicity.  He had to agree to work in the spot with the manhole cover.  Brad explained that lots are pulled out of a hat and given to the artists, there’s no preferential treatment here.  When this guy was called there was a discussion about whether he’d work there.  He agreed and it doesn’t detract from his work at all.

It’s wonderful, isn’t it?

There are a few I would like to show you from the students that I thought were also exceptional.

Like this one from Kalyn and Alexis.  It is very difficult to draw cars from a 3/4 perspective, especially when you’re an 18 and 19 year old student.  

They did good, no?  The judges certainly thought so, they won Best Student Runner Up.

Street painting has a long and respected history.  If you have the opportunity to see it for yourself you really should.

I’m not an Anime fan but Rachel certainly is and it shows.

She won Best Student.

Just a few more.  

I simply adored the next two pics.  The first one won an award but I forget what it is and I didn’t snap a photo of the plaque. 😦

I believe he’s a Capuchin Monkey. So well done, love the shades of grey. (I wonder if there’s 50? 😉 )

This one is called “Peek A Boo”. It didn’t win any awards but we thought it was adorable.

This next one is one of Peter’s favourite’s, simply because of the colours.  Apparently, he really isn’t a fan of the abstract but I thought it was well done.

Best Adult Runner Up. Lovely, isn’t it?

Two more.  Then we’re done.  🙂

I loved this one (although it took me 4 tries to get the shot *laughs*) because of the colour, the sweep of the lines and it felt totally alive.

Beautiful! She looks like a tropical Goddess.

And finally, our favourite piece of the show.  The colours were vibrant, the lines beautiful and it was so evocative we stood there looking at it for several long moments.

She looks like another Goddess. Or maybe a Goddess turned to the dark side. Maybe she’s a demon queen. Either way, we thought it was stunning.   The artist is a local tattooist named Will Graham.  

It rained Saturday morning after the artists had started their work.  Brad told me that the weather predictions have been so wrong so often lately they didn’t know whether to take it seriously or not.  But they were bang on and the artists and volunteers got the work covered.  They tented it with tarps and taped it all down.  Only a couple pieces had any water damage and it was easily fixed.  

The awards were made by Lazer Tech Etching and Cutting in London.  The owner of the shop gifted the artists with awards they created for them out of acrylic.  They took the Imadon logo and made it a base.  The upright was, as Brad described, “jagged and raw and very urban.”  Each of the artists were thrilled to participate and those who won were astonished and grateful.

Street art is an old and respected tradition.  If you have the opportunity to attend a festival where this is a part of it please, attend, support the artists and the companies who support them.  Imadon in particular is a wholly volunteer organization who uses almost exclusively artists local to your area.  

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