June 2 2010 12:00 AM

Let the sidewalk be your canvas at Old Town’s Chalk of the Town


The streets of Old Town will be lit up with colorful works of chalk art at the second annual Chalk of the Town event on June 5. Everyone from professional artists and designers to families who wish to express their creativity can participate in the four-hour competition that takes place as part of Old Town’s Be a Tourist in Your Own Town event.

“One of the things I think is synonymous with Old Town is art, and there’s something about live art unfolding in front of your eyes that is just exciting,” said Karen Stesl, one of the Chalk of the Town organizers. “Chalk art is very colorful and there’s something very happy about being outside. It’s a very family-friendly event.”

The event began as a way to provide colorful and interactive entertainment for participants of Be a Tourist. Artists are assigned an area on the sidewalk, and “tourists” can follow the chalk art through downtown Old Town to explore the different businesses and attractions the area has to offer. There will also be live entertainment and a kids’ activity area where they can create their own chalk.

At the end of the designated time, the chalk art will be judged by both a panel of judges and the people who watched the art come to life during the day.

At last year’s event, “there was a lot of interactivity, so as you’re doing your chalk art people would come by and chat with you,“ Stesl said.

Jessy Harger, a designer at Red Head Design studio in Old Town, participated with a friend in last year’s competition and will be participating again this year. She said she enjoys being able be a part of her community, and “drawing with chalk is just fun.”

Last year, Harger and her friend had a 5-foot-by-10-foot area they filled with an image of what she calls “treehuggers,” that were “not really people or animals, just something living,” wrapping arms around a detailed tree.

“There is a lot of creativity down here and it’s important to give people the opportunity to do something different,” she said. “It’s important to get people into Old Town and attract people who might not come down here. Last year it was really fun for kids: There were a lot of kids who wanted to walk all over your artwork.”

Stesl said that the variety of people participating in and attending the event made it a fun and inclusive event for everyone. “Nobody who participated was a real chalk artist, but I think that’s the point — that you can use any tool with creativity to express yourself,” she said.

Chalk of the Town

10 a.m. Saturday, June 5 Old Town (517) 485-4283