For many, sidewalk chalk conjures up nostalgic memories of childhood summers in the sun, playing tic-tac-toe or hopscotch with friends.
Under beautiful Saturday skies, chalk artists of all ages displayed their talents as Amazement Square held its eighth annual chalk festival and art competition by the river in downtown Lynchburg.
For one artist in particular, it gave him the opportunity to bond with his daughter by doing something they both love.
“It’s a lot of fun as a father-daughter relationship,” Seth Banner said of spending time with his daughter, Ella, who won third place in the middle category. “Plus, she can see other people’s artwork and it really inspires and encourages her.”
Banner has attended several chalk festivals in the past, citing his favorite piece was a portrait he drew of actor Danny DeVito. He said the festival does a good job of showcasing Lynchburg’s artistic community.
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“I think it brings people into the arts community who would otherwise be on their own. It helps people realize how big, how sustained and how extensive it is the way it is.”
Morgan Kreutz, vice president of Amazing Square, said that was the original purpose of the festival when the nonprofit children’s museum launched it in 2015.
“It really started as a way to engage all the different artist communities here in downtown Lynchburg, so it brings together a lot of different artists and families…to celebrate art,” Kreutz said.
The festival is more than just a celebration of art. It offers local artists the chance to compete for a grand prize of $1,000, which was won by Holly Barron for her vibrant portrait of a yellow brick road.
With categories for beginner, intermediate and advanced artists, there was something for everyone at the chalk festival, including an attendee who works as a full-time medical illustrator.
“Every year I keep trying to chase after first place,” said Benjamin Brown, who finished second in his first chalk festival in 2015.
Brown created a portrait of a child drawing in chalk on the sidewalk, which echoed the scene in Amazing Square on Saturday.
He took third place in the advanced category and will likely be back with his fellow artists next year, continuing to chase that top spot.
“It’s amazing here,” Brown said. “People can go out and do what they love and what they’re passionate about, and whether or not that’s a career for some of us, it’s at least a day for families to get out there and unleash their side. artistic. It’s about being here and being artistic.”
Jessica Henderson and her family attended the festival for the first time and echoed Brown’s comments that it was a great family experience.
“Our daughter loves art and so having a place where she can spend the day outside and do that outside of school is a great thing to have here in the community,” Henderson said. .
With eight chalk festivals in the books, Kreutz hopes to expand the event beyond Lynchburg in the coming years.
“We would like to make them a little bigger and have a lot more artists,” Kreutz said. “We would also like to have artists who are not from the Lynchburg area. Perhaps we could expand to the Charlottesville area, Albemarle, Amherst and Campbell counties, and continue to add more art sellers.”
This year was the first time the festival hosted art vendors in addition to the competition. Bill Booz, a local cartoonist who set up shop on Saturday, said he had never heard of the event until this year, but was impressed with the turnout and response from Lynchburg’s art community. .
“I’ve lived here for 20 years and the number of artists here amazes me,” Booz said. “As a former teacher, I also like to see the young people participating too.”
The Chalk Festival was Amazing Square’s penultimate event in its summer streak. He’s preparing for the Amazing Mile Children’s Run, part of the annual Virginia 10 Miler that begins Sept. 23.
For more information on the events taking place at Amazement Square, go online to AmazementSquare.org.