2018-09-13 / Around Town

Pick a Square on the Square

By James Merolla


Free Crayola chalk will be supplied for budding artists and artist-quality chalk will be provided for chalk art aficionados. Free Crayola chalk will be supplied for budding artists and artist-quality chalk will be provided for chalk art aficionados. A clarion call is going out to chalk artists of every age, talent level and aspiration to reserve a square on the Square.

Organizers of the Broadway Street Fair, which is scheduled for Oct. 6, are encouraging professional artists, dabblers, families, children and other groups to participate in the first annual chalk artistry exhibition from noon to 6 p.m. in Washington Square.

“This is our first year doing this,” said Charles Herndon, a fair committee member who has participated in several Georgia chalk art festivals. “If families want to get together and do family chalk, that’s terrific. There will be a children’s section set aside on the sidewalk.” Herndon also draws in a chalk art installation each week at a local business.


Porter Hattendorf creates his masterpiece. (Photo by Anna Hattendorf) Porter Hattendorf creates his masterpiece. (Photo by Anna Hattendorf) “I am so excited about the chalk [art event],” said Anna Hattendorf, one of the organizers. “To me, chalk is a wonderful medium…. I grew up with a very small yard, so [I] often did chalk on the sidewalk. My children do this now. Their laughter and excitement fills the air as they create an imaginary world.”

Artists must pre-register to reserve a square. Chalk will be provided or you can bring your own. Set up time is at 11 a.m.

“We need to get the word out, so that… even artists who are not chalk artists come down… to try that medium and take a square on the square,” committee member Liz Drayton said. “In restaurants, there is beautiful art displayed on chalkboards. It really is a modern form of expression and sign-making.

“Charles [Herndon] brought his ideas to the committee and the committee was ecstatic. This is the first year doing it, so we want to see who we will attract, and how popular it is. We want to get as many people as possible to participate.”


Among the chalk art Charles Hendon creates is a colorful Captain America. (Photo courtesy of Charles Hendon) Among the chalk art Charles Hendon creates is a colorful Captain America. (Photo courtesy of Charles Hendon) Chalk art is thought to have originated during the 1500s in Italy. The “Madonnari,” so called because of the visage of the Madonna they would often draw, would travel among European festivals, drawing religious images on stone and brick walkways, living solely on the coins tossed their way.

Chalk art contests have become popular throughout the U.S., and not just as a way to entertain children at fairs and festivals. In Ann Arbor, Michigan’s annual Street Art Fair, artists are commissioned to recreate in chalk and pastel such masterpieces as Jacques-Louis David's “Crossing the Alps,” Botticelli’s “Venus” and Salvador Dali’s “The Melting Clocks.”

In Atlanta, Herndon’s family was among the featured artists during a four-day festival in August, where master draftsmen, most available for hire, created temporary masterpieces on cement.

Herndon created a Captain America that looked like it was about to pop out and throw his shield. “That was done in a day. Greater works can be done in one day,” he said. “We are setting aside some pastels for professionals.”

By its nature, the chalk cannot endure. “It’s ephemeral. People watch the art in progress, admire it, and then, in the first rain, it gets washed away,” Drayton said.

For more information, visit the Local Broadway District Facebook Page. Email broadwaystreetfair@gmail.com to register.

“I am looking forward to being a part of [this] event in a fantastic part of [the city],” said Hattendorf. “Washington square was the original heartbeat of Newport.”

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