CMA sidewalk gallery features chalk fest

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has always been a place that embraces new artists and gives young people an outlet for their creative juices. On Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 16 and 17, the museum celebrated its annual Chalk Festival. Those juices were on full display all around the building in the form of beautiful chalk masterpieces adorning the street and sidewalks.

This past weekend was the 28th celebration of street art in Cleveland through the CMA. The Chalk Festival gives its artists an opportunity to share their art on an unusual medium. All amateur artists, from those trying to make it in the art world to those trying to make it to the first grade, had the means and material to express themselves and show off their talent in this unique public gallery.

Chalk Festival director Robin VanLear is a veteran at chalk designs. Not only did she teach classes on street painting in Santa Barbara to raise money for art programs but also, according to the museum’s website, has been a featured artist at the festival since as early as 2007. VanLear works for CMA and beamed as she discussed how year after year she encourages that the festival continue, to the delight of regular attendees.

VanLear’s piece this year was inspired by a piece in CMA’s new exhibit, “The Jazz Age”a chandelier with gazelles resting on it. She loved the simple beauty of the piece and decided to house these gazelles in a beautiful sunset inspired by a photo her friend took in Georgia.

The Chalk Festival is an interactive art gallery that is a definite crowd pleaser. Everyone who attended loved seeing what some artists can do with chalk and then attempting themselves, though in some cases like my own, horribly failing.

“I loved how we were given a chance to create our own art and talk to the featured artists,” said First-year Case Western Reserve University student Yvonne Pan. “It was crazy that we could both pick up the exact same piece of chalk and two different worlds would come to life on the pavement. It wasn’t just walking around a museum, we got to actually touch and work with the art, which is a unique experience you can’t [always] get at art museums.”

The CMA will be continuing this tradition next year and invites all to come and enjoy the sidewalk gallery. As VanLear said, “Chalk art is not computerized, which gives it more life. It’s really cool how artists and non-artists come together at the Chalk Fest and it is geared towards bringing everyone together.”