Chalk-stained hands were commonplace downtown this Saturday as kids, parents, and artists spread vibrant colors across Houston Street during Artpace’s Chalk It Up, a free festival of contemporary art.
A total of 55 student teams and community organizations competed to create the best chalk mural. Local artists drew along the main sidewalks and non-competitors expressed themselves in designated freestyle areas.
Winners of the chalk mural competition were announced by Mayor Ivy Taylor:
Elementary: Los Reyes Elementary
Middle School: Alamo Heights Junior School
High School: East Central High School
Adult category: Majestic Theater
Winners received a $100 dollar gift certificate for Herweck’s Art Supply, a custom ribbon, and a Team Works registration for 2016 Artpace Chalk It Up, worth $50.
Throughout the day participants watched local emerging artists blend water and chalk powder to piece together an open gallery, full of vibrant colors in the heart of downtown. This new image of downtown was one many aren’t used to, one that speaks to the future of artistic expression in San Antonio.
“We want to help revitalize downtown San Antonio and make it a cultural destination,” said Taylor Browning, associate curator for education at Artpace.
Showcase artist Cruz Ortiz is part of that revitalization.
“This is important especially for a city such as ours. We talk about development but you need to have that scaffold of support, and a major one is the integration of art,” Ortiz said. “The amount of people on the street checking out these art pieces is a huge indicator to public and private sectors that San Antonio is starving for more art endeavors such as this.”
The addition of food trucks this year and other hands on activities helped appeal to a wider audience.
“We want to emphasize that Chalk It Up isn’t only for kids and families, it is meant to be a community celebration of contemporary art,“ Browning said.
Also new this year was a pop up exhibition at a vacant corner building on 140 E. Houston Street. “Vacancy Via Artpace” showcased works from artists who have participated in Artpace’s contemporary art residency program in the past. Every year they host three artists—a local, national, and international one—who come to live and work in the Artpace building.
For a mom like Debbie Pimentel, watching her son Michael participate in the act of creating an art piece made her see the importance of such events.
“They see all these artists here and that inspires them to want to do this too,” Pimentel said.
Chalk It Up’s hands on approach and visual appeal inspired young Michael to accept a box of chalk from a stranger and express himself.
“He stared at this manhole and saw it as a good starting piece for his work,” Pimentel added.
Initially planning on only being spectators, the Pimentels found themselves becoming avid participants.
“He then told me to bring a cardboard piece and write his name on it,” she said.