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Creativity thrives at Park Place Chalk Art Festival

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Rebecca Marie Sasnett and Rebecca Marie Sasnett | The Daily Wildcat Rebecca Marie Sasnett/The Daily Wildcat Muralist Gina Ribaudo blends brown and tan color chalk as she finishes her Frida Khalo chalk drawing in front of Park Place Mall on Sunday. Ribaudo has been creating murals for 20 years.

Both old and young community members shared in their love of chalk on Saturday and Sunday at the Park Place Chalk Art Festival. The free event provided a public space for professional artists, children and festival-goers to make and enjoy chalk art murals.

This was the festival’s third year; it attracted more than 4,000 people and featured 12 professional artists, each of whom created one chalk mural.

Mitch Turbenson, one of the event coordinators and a first-year law student at the UA, said that chalk is a medium which is rarely thought to be a high art form, but drawing with it is a nostalgic pastime that can bring a community together.

“I think people really appreciate having a free event like this where they can bring their kids and have them learn about and participate in art,” Turbenson said.

The festival featured KidZones where children could get involved and create their own chalk art. One parent said he believes that the festival is successful because of its combination of art and the outdoors.

“It’s fantastic fun and it’s doing something creative outside,” said Chris Constantine, who brought his three sons to the festival to draw.

His son, 8-year-old Samuel Constantine, likes how the KidZones create a place to show how creative you are. Samuel Constantine said he thinks chalk in particular is cool because it makes you think about something you don’t normally pay attention to.

“Usually people won’t look at the sidewalk,” Samuel Constantine said. “But when there are creations on it people will look.”
That was certainly the case for unsuspecting shoppers around the mall. Each mural had a small crowd around it as people watched the artists work. Some of the murals had southwestern themes, like desert animals and landscapes.

Onlookers could talk to the artists while they worked, which made the experience more interactive. Turbenson said he believes that being able to watch artists as they’re creating, instead of just seeing an end product is one of the unique aspects the festival offers.

Mural artist Gina Ribaudo of ilovemurals.com drew Frida Kahlo. She said Kahlo is an inspiration to her because she represented a strong female artist during a time when there were few of them. It was Ribaudo’s first time attending the festival, and she said it was enjoyable to work outside her usual medium.

“It’s kind of fun and different,” Ribaudo said.

She said any sadness she may have felt about the mural eventually fading away, was overpowered by the progress the festival makes in teaching people about art.

Turbenson said he believes that the reason that art education can happen during the festival is because of its location, and that there is a shift toward more informal art venues happening. Bringing the arts to populated centers like Park Place Mall is a way to expose people to more art mediums, according to Turbenson.


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