ArtBeat – Chalk It Up!

ArtBeat/August 2022

By Ed Goldman

* image from Chalk It Up!

When I was a kid, I got in trouble for coloring on the walls of my bedroom. God only knows what my folks would have thought if I’d gone out and doodled all over a public sidewalk. 

And yet, a yearly aesthetically thrilling defacement—of the sidewalks bordering Fremont Park at 16th & Q Streets in midtown Sacramento—will celebrate its 32nd anniversary this Labor Day weekend, September 3-5.

One might say that Chalk It Up Sacramento “draws” a wide range of artists, skills and visions to the region if one were more into puns than one ought to be. (Using “one” to mean me, I or someone entirely else could be one of the early test rides of non-binary pronouns. But we digress.)

Over the three-plus decades of Chalk It up!, thousands of artists have demonstrated their street creds and true belief in art by creating beautiful or fanciful drawings while knowing the works would fade, perish or be hosed down by City of Sacramento crews the Tuesday after Labor Day, September 6. It’s a case of creating art for art’s sake—as pure a reason as possible in the otherwise competitive world of galleries, exhibits and a sometimes-limited pool of buyers.

Begun by a co-creator of Sacramento’s Second Saturday, D Oldham Neath of Archival Gallery (and CBS-TV’s “Art Lady”), Chalk It Up is a 501(c)3 non-profit, meaning you can contribute money to it. That it promotes and supports youth arts by providing small but encouraging grants to K-12 classrooms and a variety of projects throughout the Sacramento region should provide a further incentive.

By the way, this redecorating of urban landscapes isn’t all that new a concept. It echoes a tradition begun centuries ago in Italy and other countries where traveling groups of painters would visit villages and towns for religious festivals and pageants and, as the Chalk It Up! website describes it, “transform the streets and public squares into temporary galleries for their works of art.”

For spectators, you couldn’t ask for a livelier admission-free way to while away some three-day weekend time watching other people spending Labor Day creating labors of love. Hope to see you there if I’m not home coloring my walls. Details are at https://chalkitup.org/festival/.

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