At the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Chalk
Festival this weekend, volunteers who looked like worker bees in yellow
and black T-shirts buzzed along the Fine Arts Garden's paths, helping participants find their stone canvases. Armed with soft pastels and sometimes seat cushions, artists from
all zip codes and ages set to work.
Though the talents of some three-year-olds with chalk had mine beat, the featured artists stole
the show. Community arts coordinator Nan Eisenberg says the artists were asked to
look to the museum’s Youth and Beauty exhibit, which ended this weekend, for inspiration.
Featured artist Joshua Maxwell, 22, focused on the Art Deco
trends of 1920’s art. “Metropolises were symbolic of the grandeur of the
1920’s,” he said. “I wanted to depict Cleveland as that kind of up-and-coming
metropolis with its own grandeur.”
Maxwell, Debra Sue Solecki surveyed her adaptation of Henrietta Shore’s "California Data." As she drew, two precocious pre-teens blurted out praises. “It’s such a different experience to draw in
front of a crowd,” said Solecki, “For them to become a part of the process -- it’s
a really good energy.”
Robin VanLear, artistic director for community arts, has been bringing this energy to
University Circle every fall since she started the event in 1990. On Saturday, she,
like many of the artists, had only just begun. “If they finish by the
end of day one, they’re not doing their jobs,” she said with a laugh.