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Arts and Entertainment

Anchorage artists leave downtown street chalk-full of color

  • Author: Lauren Ellenbecker
  • Updated: June 23
  • Published June 23

Professional artists and festival goers draw with chalk on G Street during the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival. June 22, 2019 (Photo by Lauren Ellenbecker)

Powder lingered in the air as artists blended colors together, chatted and complimented each others’ designs at a chalk mural event on G Street during the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in Anchorage Saturday.

The event was organized by the International Gallery of Contemporary Art to “add color and creation to the city,” said Donna Carr, head of the gallery’s membership committee.

On G Street, the pavement was divided into different sections for people to draw on, from a kid’s competition, to murals and a free sketch area.

A girl looks through chalk in a bin during a chalk event at the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival Saturday. June 22, 2019 (Photo by Lauren Ellenbecker)

There were planes, birds, abstract cats, an octopus breaking through the ground and geometric patterns. Children drew rainbows, animals, princesses, scribbles and life in outer space.

Toddlers wrestled with chalk that was over half their size, or grabbed at smaller pieces in a bin. The larger sticks of chalk were made by the gallery with Plaster of Paris and pipes, Carr said.

Brandy Lee Snowden, a member of the International Gallery, said the event was a great way for everyone to contribute to public art, regardless of their skill.

“There are people that show up saying ‘I’ve never done this before,’ but you’d never know because it looks fantastic,” she said.

“It was important that anyone of any age and ability [could] participate in it freely,” Carr said.

This year’s event has grown since last year, with 14 professional artists attending rather than just four, she said. In the future, IGCA wants to provide larger murals so more of the street can be covered in artwork.

Artist Selene Stoll sketched her interpretation of “Raven Steals the Sun,” an Alaska Native story explaining how light came into the universe. She said going to the community event made her artwork feel more social.

Selene Stoll adds highlights to the small, red sun in her crow's mouth during a chalk event at the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival. June 22, 2019 (Photo by Lauren Ellenbecker)

“With chalk art, it’s for the viewers who are passing by,” Stoll said. As a digital artist, there is a drawback to restricting yourself to a computer, she said. “This is more community-based, and you’re not stuck in a room all of the time.”

The people who strolled down the block lingered as they stared at the murals, sometimes asking artists if they could take pictures of the work.

When a couple stopped by Stoll’s raven, she replied with a thank you and said, “it’s all for you guys. Happy solstice.”

Rebecca Koford, a painter, had never worked with chalk other than during a practice run the day before near her home. Koford based her idea off of what she’d seen of chalk art online, drawing an octopus’s tentacles slithering from a hole in the ground.

Dark clouds drifted over the chalk artists 40 minutes after the event began at noon, and light drops of water fell onto their sketches.

The prospect of rain didn’t deter Snowden. She shrugged and said “water helps you blend your colors.” About half an hour later, the rain had stopped and the artists continued drawing until about 6 p.m.

“It’s just fun to show up,” she said.

Brandy Lee Snowden looks at the design she created for her chalk mural. June 22, 2019 (Photo by Lauren Ellenbecker)

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