Chalk it up to art

The second annual Victoria International Chalk Art Festival brings art to the streets

Chalk Art - California’s Susanne Ma is just one of many international artists coming to the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival, Sept. 14-15 around downtown Victoria.

After only two years on the street, the Victoria Chalk Art Festival is already the largest festival of its kind in Canada.

The festival is growing by leaps and bounds this year, with almost 30 local artists and 16 international artists participating.

This year, the festival has a theme, focusing on celebrating the art and culture of B.C.’s First Nations.

Even the international artists have taken on the challenge.

This year’s feature artist is Leon Keer of the Netherlands. He begins working on a 20-by- 20-foot 3D chalk painting on the lower level of The Bay Centre Wednesday morning.

“He’s doing a salute to B.C. First Nations as well,” says Chalk Fest executive director John Vickers.

“In the design you will see a Monopoly game as the border of the painting. The streets are replaced by B.C. locations which carry First Nation names. From out of the middle you will not only see some beautiful trees arise from the depths, but also the Industry that is present. It is a kind of metaphor for the struggle and sacrifice which the First Nations have to make to be able to move forward and live in harmony with everybody who is present nowadays in their habitat,” Keer writes by email.

Keer will work on his painting in Zone 3 (Bay Centre) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. His anamorphic art will be finished by the end of the weekend and will remain on display until Sept. 30.

Government Street (Zone 2) will be closed from Fort to Yates streets from 4 a.m. Saturday to 9 p.m. Sunday. More than 30 local artists, some of whom are trying chalk art for the first time, will each get 8-by-10-foot “canvases” to work on right on the street. Artists will be finished painting by 6 p.m., leaving three hours for people to come down and view the finished products before the street reopens to vehicles.

Centennial Square (Zone 1) will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday with international artists live painting in the square, accompanied by entertainment from First Nations dancers, singers and drummers, and other local musicians, beginning each day at noon. Centennial Square is also home to the kids zone where children have access to thousands of pieces of chalk to design their own street art masterpieces, food vendors and an artisans’ marketplace.

As a special treat, Kurt Wenner, an internationally acclaimed chalk artist who founded anamorphic or 3D chalk art will be on hand Saturday in Zone 2 at Munro’s Books (1180 Government) from 2-3 p.m., where he’ll be signing copies of his book Asphalt Renaissance — a sure sign that Victoria is now on the international chalk art map.

Vista, California’s Lori Escalara, who is a featured artist at this year’s festival is also hosting a tutorial Thursday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Delta Ocean Pointe. Any local artists who want to try their hands at creating chalk art during the festival can register for the workshop at victoriachalkfestival.com.

For complete event listings, pick up a copy of the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival program at the information kiosk at The Bay Centre and check out victoriachalkfestival.com.

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