Like spring flowers, the Women’s History Month Street Painting Festival comes and goes in a blink, but always makes an impression. And while April Showers make May flowers, chalk art hates water almost as much as the Wicked Witch of the West.
A heavy rain fell the evening of the first day of the two-day festival, scouring away hours of work by artists who had crawled around on their hands and knees all day. First-time participant Iliana DeLaPeńa, 20, arrived the next morning to find her art was washed away like chocolate milk from a child’s face.
“I was disappointed,” said DeLaPeńa. “Then again, in three hours I can probably produce a new and better one. I am not too worried about finishing on time. I am doing this for fun.”
Many artists, however felt pressure to finish before judging. Four categories decided by faculty and staff judges were Best Technique, Most Original, Best Representation of Women in History and Best of Festival. All received cash prizes.
Stephanie Amber Atizado, 20, arts major, was named Best of Festival. She said she has attended the event every year and began participating her junior year of high school while assisting her art teacher. For her last year at SWC she decided to go out with a bang and do her largest chalk art piece ever, an ambitious portrait of her favorite artist, Georgia O’Keeffe.
“I picked her because I love her art,” said Atizado. “The choice I made of her in her older years was to emphasize the wrinkles on her face in the cracks of the cement.”
While Atizado worked she displayed a quote from O’Keeffe to give the audience a sense of her connection to the art: “I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I could not say any other way, things I had no words for.”
Event organizer Brenda Mora invited previous winners and other community artists. A talented chalk artist herself, Mora stages the event with sponsorships and donations. Target store employees played an essential role in volunteering this year in the addition to providing much-needed boxes of chalk. Sunnyside Elementary School students joyfully burned through boxes of chalk while creating temporary masterpieces. All proceeds from the event are donated to the Southwestern College Scholarship Fund.
Mora and her team worked hard to invigorate this years’ event by inviting performers such as the SWC Ballet Folkorico and colorful vendors which brought festivity and energy.
“This has been the largest festival yet,” she said. “Participation was amazing this year. To have people from all ages participating, from SWC students to a 9-year-old girl, assured me that it was a success.”
Mora’s efforts paid off in the end with 90 participants who got down on their hands and knees to chalk for a cause.
“I wanted to do an event that was purpose-orientated,” said Mora. “It would also be a public form of art appreciation and education.”
Elite chalk artist Cecelia Linayao, the first featured artist in the history of the festival, returned to take part in this year’s festivities. She said she has been doing chalk art for almost 30 years, six years professionally. Her art has taken her to China for the 2008 Olympics, to the Children’s Museum in Houston and other exhibitions around the nation.
“I keep coming back because I feel honored,” said Linayao. “Being the first featured artist is such a privilege for me. Women’s History Month is important as a woman I want to support that art education and expression.”
Linayao is no stranger to having her art demolished by rain. She often teaches workshops on chalk art and devotes a portion on how to deal with the weather. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to start over.
“It can be a metaphor for life,” said Linayao. “You have to be able to know when to let go.”