Cartoon characters, superheroes, flowers, sunsets — an array of designs decorated Oberlin’s downtown streets for its Chalk Walk on Saturday.
The annual event drew amateur and professional artists as well as plenty of onlookers.
Barry Richard, an organizer of the event, said it was the biggest turnout they’ve seen in the 14 years Chalk Walk has been held. He credited that to the “spring fever” people have after the rainy weather.
Richard said the event is designed to support artists and draw people to Oberlin, so they hopefully return and spend money at local businesses.
Chalk Walk was a good day for area businesses, particularly the restaurants, Richard said, and he hoped people also would stop by some of the city’s art businesses.
On the side of the library, a yearly mural was in the process of being created. This year, it was dedicated to Frida Kahlo, a well-known Hispanic artist who died in 1954. Her face was sketched out in the middle, with flowers flowing from both sides.
Terry Flores sketched the chalking and came up with the theme of this year’s mural. She said they hadn’t done anything for Hispanic representation, so they decided to honor Kahlo.
Flores said Kahlo loved flowers and had a lot of gardens, so she chose the flowers to accompany Kahlo’s face. Plus, she said, they’re easier to chalk.
The face of Kahlo was reserved for Flores to do; it has a lot of detail and Flores said that will be the hardest part. The artists working on the mural were starting at the top and moving down, so as not to smear chalk everywhere.
When the artwork is done, which Flores said would be finished by the end of Saturday, they will spray a fixative on the chalk so it will stay on the wall for about two to three months, if not longer.
Many of the artists who create artwork at the event use their fingers to blend and shade the chalk, which can be hard on their fingers. To protect against that, some use gloves or apply a special spray.
Flores said artists have to handle the chalk in a specific way to prevent the work from becoming muddy.
At the bottom of the mural, the words “enjoy life” in Spanish will be displayed.
At another location in Oberlin, Dan Cherney, who teaches art in North Olmsted and is an illustrator, painted aliens on the sidewalk. He arrived there at 5 a.m. to begin chalking. His dog Zoe watched from the side, her white fur covered in colorful chalk.
Children also put their own art on the sidewalks.
Gabrielle Gibson decided to paint a clear blue sky with a rainbow because she likes them. She gestured to the corner of her sandstone pavement and said she’s not quite done yet.
This is the first year Gibson has participated in the Chalk Walk, but she said she loves coloring at home.
By the end of the Chalk Walk, the streets will be filled with the artists’ creations, which will remain there until the rain washes them away.