What high art could possibly be produced with mere colored chalk?
You may think that chalk, as an artistic medium, isn’t capable of truly astounding art. I know my expectations of chalk art weren’t that high.
That is, until I experienced the annual Denver Chalk Art Festival — an amazing (and free) event where I saw some truly eye-popping works of art. And although the drawings were technically only chalk on a street, emotionally they consisted of much, much more.
So what is the Denver Chalk Art Festival?
I’ll break it down into some digits for you:
- 200+ artists spend
- 10+ hours creating street art for
- 2 days at the festival which happens
- 1 day each year and costs
- $0 to attend, but the experience is
What would Bob think?
Basically, these chalk artists do with chalk what Bob Ross does with paint: they really own their craft.
Beautiful things (even copyrighted things!) were being scribed onto the street for all to see. In every direction, people were either observing or creating chalk art. Some of the drawings were done in fiery colors, some looked like they were from a child’s story book, and some were drawn to almost photographic detail. And where there were cracks in the pavement, the artists somehow worked that into the work, too.
Without seeing this, I never would have guessed that chalk was so darn versatile!
But instead of telling you any more about the art, I’m going to show you. We’re going to briefly touch on some of the highlights.
Where the Wild Things Are Drawn
Walking down the street, I even spotted a wild thing from the classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.
While the drawing was unfortunately only partially done, it was pretty obvious to see that whoever drew this was very experienced because they managed to capture the lifelike quality of this wild character. You could almost imagine the creature leaping right out of the street and walking away.
It’s a good thing that isn’t possible. I don’t want to think about what would happen if a wild thing got let loose in a fair with all those food vendors around…
The Fiery Orange-Red Lady
Like most of the work I photographed, it wasn’t quite finished yet. (Although the artist did such a good job on this one, she could have stopped after finishing the flowers.)
Thankfully, I did get to see the final product later.
When I saw this, it nearly stopped me right in my tracks. The level of detail he was able to achieve in this street drawing is pretty incredible. And luckily he wasn’t the only person this talented at the festival. You couldn’t throw a stick without seeing something fascinating.
Although, I do consider this one special because it was one of the most photo-realistic drawings there. I found another fantastic face drawn onto the street, too; but I didn’t want to clutter up this article with too many photos. So to see that, you’ll have to check out the Denver Chalk Art photo album in the gallery.
The Tale of the Orange Owl & Green Grasshopper
I really liked this one; it reminded me of the colorful and mysterious children’s books that I had as a child. (In fact, this may even be a recreation scene from a children’s book I’ve never read. If it is, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.)
Clearly children’s illustration was an inspiration to Heather Brown, who is the talented artist who drew this; and if she was trying evoke a sense of childlike playfulness and joy, I’d say she succeeded.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief tour of the Denver Chalk Art Festival, and if you’re ever going to Denver in June, you’d be a crazyperson to pass up this opportunity to see so much amazing (and free) street art!
And then I wandered right into…
But there’s more to the story because quite near to the chalk art festival was another festival, and I happened to wander right into it.
Coming up: a nearly forgotten medieval instrument, footage of a surprisingly good Elvis impersonator, and the snazziest street musician I’ve ever seen: