The theme of this year's Sarasota Chalk Festival is “Pavement Art Through the Ages” and beginning November 1 local and international artists will once again transform South Pineapple Avenue into a canvas of show-stopping art, square by square, block by block.
"The quality of this chalk festival is not just the talk of the town, it's the talk of the world right now," said chalk festival administrator Ed Pandos. "Newspapers in Europe are writing about our festival and we are being contacted by artists from all over the world asking to participate. We are going to be the super bowl of chalk."
Additionally, this year the “Art of Graffiti”, will showcase graffiti artists creating vertical art in 20 different locations throughout Sarasota. Artists will fly in from France and use a technique called cellograph. Some of the vertical locations will be wrapped in cellophane and then the artists will do graffiti art on it.
“We aim to show people that there are alternatives to expressing themselves and those expressions do not have to be permanent,” said chalk festival founder Denise Kowal.
In honor of the Italian festival called Grazie di Curtatone, where master artists compete during a 24-hour chalk drawing cometition, master chalk artists will fly from Italy to replicate the event here during Sarasota's chalk festival.
"We are partnering with the Italian Embassy to fly 20 artists here for this competition. It will all be scribed in Italian because we are honoring their festival”, said Kowal, who is sending some artists to Italy in August to observe the competition. Her goal is to bring focus to their event and to honor it in the process.
Master Modanaro Kurt Wenner will arrive in late October and host a series of workshops at . Wenner was fascinated by anamorphism, or 3-D art, in the early 80s while visiting Italy. He particularly loved the frescoed ceilings that gave the illusion of height and he eventually developed a unique geometry that allowed him to bring those illusions to the street. Since then 3-D painting has become a worldwide success with many famous artists showcasing their 3-D abilities world-wide.
Ringling College will display Wenner's historical pavement art interpretations as well host his lectures and show his artwork. Various professionals will also hold lectures and demonstrations of the history of pavement art, perspective, illusions and street painting techniques during the festival.
Ignition Branding of Tampa has signed on to be the national media sponsor for the chalk festival. Alicia Roberts, media relations director at Ignition says, "Helping to promote this event is such an honor and privilige. It is such a catalyst for sidewalk art. Artists from all over the world are going to gather here and that will draw a lot of attention to Sarasota," Robers said. "I think the culture is right for pavement art, for this type of expression.”
Vincent Taschetti, CEO of Fusion Design + Art in Sarasota, has spent the past few months working closely with Kowal to develop a magazine for the upcoming festival. It will showcase each of the major artists and will be available in October.
Sheri of the band, SoulRCoaster, is looking forward to playing again this year during the event. “You definitely need good music when you are making great art!”, said Sheri.
This year's Chalk Festival officially launched this week with more than $10,000 being raised at the opening party on June 30. Festival founder, Denise Kowal said, “I am so pleased with the response tonight. We are a 100 percent volunteer organization and every donation helps us bring more artists here.”
Donations are needed at every sponsor level: $25 allows a local child to do their own square, $50 allows a local student to do a square, and $2,500 puts you in the category of a major sponsor.
The Sarasota Chalk Festival is produced by the Avenida de Colores, Inc., a 501(c)3 volunteer organization that functions solely through the generous support and dedication of our artists, sponsors, volunteers and the public. The website, www.sarasotachalkfestival.com, has complete information and timetables for events during the festival. You can also sign up there to receive email updates or contribute.