A few years back, I was the esteemed recipient of a mass e-mail that, unlike the strong majority, I actually forwarded out to a select few. For whatever reason, that’s just usually not my thing. I don’t know, you probably saw it at some point. Do you remember the optical illusion sidewalk chalk guy? His stuff blows minds! I think part of the splendor is that his public spectacle of creating tripped-out, 3-D mindbenders exists only to complete a big, impressive piece that ultimately has a pretty short life. It’s kind of sad, actually. But temporary art is all about the labor you put into it, knowing it’ll fade away sooner than later. When it’s done in public, with an audience and with other artists, the experience takes on richer characteristics. As far back as I can remember, kids in the neighborhood have always been down to make a mural on an asphalt driveway or frame some playful abstraction between the cracks in the sidewalk so that it looks like a comic book.
But, like sand castles, sidewalk chalk eventually gives way to the elements. Those moments shared with the kids in the neighborhood will be just those, save for a few faded photos. The exclusivity of not having anything to show for it is invaluable.
Stirring up these memories outlined in chalk is an e-mail I received yesterday about a pretty cool community event going down in River Rouge in a couple weeks. I’ll admit I’ve never been to River Rouge, but this might get me down there. If not to relish in some silly chalk nostalgia then to see what renowned illustrator Topher Crowder produces.
I’m talking about the second annual Chalk on the Avenue, which goes down June 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Memorial Park on Jefferson Avenue. We hear the whole thing is the brainchild of the city’s mayor pro-tem, Patty Campbell.
Artists from all over metro Detroit, including students from Wayne State University’s art school and the College for Creative Studies, will join the youth and community of River Rouge for the chalk throw-down of the year. We hear they actually section off the sidewalk based on age and skill level.
It’s something different and it’s something fun, so it’s definitely something to consider.
Karl Laub (313-842-4203) would be the guy to talk to if Chalk on the Avenue sounds like something you might wanna check out.