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Army centre chalks up third re-markable event

Army centre chalks up third re-markable event

Army centre chalks up third re-markable event

One of Green Bay’s talented pavement artists competes in ChalkFest last year.

By Darryl Whitecross

Drawing with chalk is not an activity limited to children. Across the world, it is popular among artists who use roads, footpaths and buildings for their unique, removable public work. These creative types – many of them professionals – are called Pavement Artists.

The Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay in Wisconsin, USA, has drawn on this popularity with its annual Chalkfest event etched into its calendar each August.

It’s a far cry from the world’s oldest street-painting competition – Incontro Nazionale dei Madonnari, held in the small northern Italian town of Grazie di Curtatone, also in August – where hundreds of pavement artists, known as Madonnari, flock to the village every year to compete and are given 24 hours to create a piece with a religious theme.

In Green Bay, about 20 people apply to be part of Chalkfest and are given a little over five hours to create their artwork.

COVID-19 threatened to dust Chalkfest from the 2020 calendar, but The Salvation Army’s Kroc Community Center in Green Bay has found a way of making the third annual event happen on the bitumen driveway behind the complex on 8 August, albeit with a few changes due to social-distancing restrictions.

Kayla Klein, the Kroc Center event services coordinator, said interest and participation in pavement chalk art had become more popular recently. “Generally you wouldn’t see many people doing chalk art on any given day, however, it has become more popular since COVID.”

She said the artist spaces, which were allocated on a “first-come, first-served basis”, would be spread out more than usual this year. “Generally, they’re only about 2ft (60cm) apart but we’re going to put them more than six feet (185cm) apart. We have plenty of space to do that," Kayla said. “The artists themselves will be socially-distanced but, on top of that, that will help with the public that’s coming to view the art.” People will be asked to practise social distancing or wear a face mask.

Kayla Klein is the event services coordinator for The Salvation Army Greater Green Bay Kroc Community Center. 

“ChalkFest is a great opportunity for us to provide a family-friendly event that also promotes the arts in our community,” Kayla said. “There are a couple of other locations in Wisconsin that have chalkfest events and that’s where we got the idea from and just wanted to bring it to the area here.

“We love offering free family-friendly events and it’s a great way to promote art in our community. This event is also a fundraiser for the Salvation Army Kroc Center, so it helps support our other programs as well.” 

The event usually attracts around 1000 people throughout the day, who watch the hobby artists transform the pavement into one-off pieces. The exhibition is open to all chalk artists, whether they are amateur or professional, as long as they are 12 years old and over. It is free to register and each artist is given a 48-piece chalk set or they can take your own.

Kayla said children under 12 would not miss out as there was a “kid’s chalk zone” where they could “go express yourself in”.

There is a six-member judging panel made up of local art professors or other well-known artists from the area, but Kayla said everyone who attends the event is able to cast their vote in the “People’s Choice Award”. There also is to be an artist’s choice award.

“At the end of ChalkFest, we just leave the artwork there. The community enjoys being able to come back the Kroc Center to view the artwork days later [weather permitting, of course],” Kayla said.

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