By Jocelyn Birkes
Community building, beautifying a graffiti-stricken area of Brantford with art, and even being a bit rebellious — these are some of the things participants liked best about the Oct. 15 Chalk the City event organized by ViBRANT ARC (Art Reconnecting Community).
During the gathering, the art group’s members and even some passersby created decorative chalk murals on a wall that has been plagued with graffiti over the years.
The event’s goals were twofold: to promote local art and artists while covering up a spray-painted wall with something decorative and eye-pleasing.
Artists created a variety of chalk art pieces that included a hopscotch court for children as well as positive messaging. The colourful chalk art overwhelmed the spray-paint tags that cover the wall.
Artist and local resident Jenna Nieman says the area is “constantly” being tagged with graffiti.
Creating something decorative and positive on the wall is a step up, she says, adding she’d like to see more chalk art projects like this in Brantford.
“Just seeing what people put out for art helps me get to know them even better.”
“Everyone should be able to do this everywhere all the time,” Jenna says.
The event was also a chance for each artist to be a bit of a “rebel,” says participant Tara Buchanan.
While decorating a wall with chalk may appear to be similar to tagging with spray paint, unlike paint, chalk art will soon be washed away by the elements.
Tara says she found the event to be uplifting as well as an opportunity to strengthen her connections with Brantford’s art community.
“I feel closer to the people that were here,” she says. “I know everybody that’s here, but some folks not as well. Just seeing what people put out for art helps me get to know them even better.”
At one point, police showed up to see what the group was doing, but after the artists explained they were using chalk to cover spray-paint tags they were allowed to carry on, which artist Jason White says was encouraging.
“I think most people were pretty supportive,” he says. “They were happy to see us out there doing stuff.”
Sharon Gashgarian says that being creative with chalk made her “feel like a kid again.”
She adds that Chalk the City proved to be an event that connected people through art, and that’s something she’d like to see continue.
“I would love to see more of this community building and people getting interested in all different forms of art,” she says.
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