Our guest columnist proposes that the city host an annual chalk art festival.
By Beth Fhaner
Laguna Beach is renowned for its vibrant arts scene, particularly with the plethora of annual art festivals that take place during the busy summer months. From the Pageant of the Masters to Art-A-Fair to the Sawdust Festival, there is no shortage of creativity on display during the summer season. And with an abundance of galleries and art studios around the city, there are countless art-related events that are scheduled here throughout the year. One activity that our art-centric town has yet to attempt, however, is an annual chalk art festival.
Several Southern California cities have had success hosting popular chalk art and street painting fairs, including Pasadena, Temecula, San Diego, Burbank, Redondo Beach and Santa Barbara, to name a few. Head north, and you’ll find that San Francisco, Sacramento, Palo Alto and San Jose all boast chalk art festivals as well, not to mention Berkeley’s Chocolate and Chalk Festival—a winning combination to be sure. During these art extravaganzas, artists of all ages transform city streets and sidewalks into colorful chalk murals and vivid paintings done in every style imaginable, while festivalgoers are able enjoy live music and entertainment, food vendors and various arts and crafts displays. Additionally, a special area designated to children allows the younger crowd a dedicated space in which to create their own chalk art masterpieces.
Free and open to the public, street painting festivals are family-friendly events and a fun way to spend a day, whether you’re creating your own pastel chalk artwork or watching an artist in action. “A successful chalk festival features a range of artwork that people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy,” says Patricia Hurley, managing director of the Light Bringer Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to build community ties through arts and education and hosts the wildly successful annual Pasadena Chalk Festival. “You don’t have to be an arts expert, or even an avid museumgoer, to recognize and enjoy the quality of the unique art form of street painting.”
Inspired by the city of Pasadena, I envision Laguna hosting a chalk art and street painting festival that could last a day or perhaps an entire weekend. The location would require an area where city streets could be closed-off to traffic, such as the sidewalks and streets of Forest Avenue, or possibly along the sidewalks that line Main Beach and PCH. Additionally, the proceeds from selling the sidewalk squares or paintings to festival visitors could be donated to nonprofit community and school art programs, further ensuring that the arts are engrained in our culture.
As a lifelong art aficionado, I’ve attended chalk art festivals in various Southern California cities and have been captivated by the extraordinary creativity and diverse styles displayed by street artists. When combined with good eats, entertainment and an array of arts and crafts on display, a chalk art and street painting festival in the spring or fall season would be a welcome addition to our art-loving town.
Beth Fhaner is an Orange County-based freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about food, film, travel and local culture.