#ChalkArtSaturdays Prompts Art to Happen in Salem

#ChalkArtSaturdays Mural by Annadidathing

by Joey Phoenix

UPDATE 6/2 – The Art Prompt this week is Celebrate Salem Arts Festival and the artist is Maia Mattison.

It’s Saturday. The sun is shining. The kids are sticky with syrup from pancakes and begging you for something fun to do. 

The answer: get out the chalk.*

Studioful Design, in collaboration with the City of Salem, has commissioned four local artists – Maia Mattison, Anna Dugan, Keshia de Leon, and Tia Cole – to create eight different chalk art murals around the city for Chalk Art Saturdays, a weekly program to inspire strength and togetherness in Salem during this time of physical distancing.

We had the chance to catch up with @annadidathing as she created an amazing chalk mural in honor of the essential workers as part of @salempublicart #chalkartsaturdays initiative Thank you to all the essential workers out there making a difference everyday@destsalem @mayorkimdriscoll @creativecollectivema @visitnorthofboston #salemma #artsmatter #essexcountycreates #ccmembersrock #publicart #chalkart #northofboston #creativenorthshore #wearesalem #salemtogether

Posted by Creative North Shore on Saturday, May 16, 2020

In addition to these professional murals, they are also encouraging everyone to get out and make chalk art of their own using the art prompt each Saturday.**

The fourth mural in the series will go up tomorrow, Saturday, May 30th. This week’s art prompt – “Favorite Meal Together/Apart – celebrates the nurturing food we eat and share. And this week’s artist is Keshia de Leon of K Leon Creative.

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💖💕Amor y Paz. 💕💖

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The series is part of the City’s “Art Spring: A Pop-Up Public Art Initiative” which will be taking place through the end of June. The Initiative also includes Yarn ‘Bomb’ Sculptures – fiber arts installations from Ana Campos of Circle of Stitches.

Public Art and Social Distancing

For Studioful Design owner Claudia Paraschiv, spring each year has been a time for planning extensive public art projects in time for the Salem Arts Festival and the summer festival season. 

Maia Mattison’s Mural on the Salem Public Library steps

“My passion is participatory projects,” said Claudia when asked what gave her the idea for the Chalk Art Saturdays project. “But you usually need to get people together in order to do that. 

The challenge of creating participatory public art events when people couldn’t actually convene led to quite the puzzle. Not only because people couldn’t gather, but that not everyone who normally would have participated in these larger scale events couldn’t always be reached through the internet. 

“I started thinking about how we can gather at the same time if we can’t gather in the same place?” She added. 

Strawberry Detail of Tia Cole’s Mural on the Steps in Mack Park

With this thought in her head, Claudia started working together with Salem Public Art Commissioner Julie Barry, who had been looking for a project that would be uplifting to the community, and they landed on Chalk Art Saturdays. So far, the event has been just that, with each of three murals to date conveying a message of hope, gratitude, and brightness.

Yet, despite the artistic success of the project, she would love to get more people involved. 

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This week’s Art Prompt celebrates the nurturing food we eat and share. FAVORITE MEAL TOGETHER / APART Our Chalk Art Mural will be created by local artist Keshia de Leon of K Leon Creative @kleonarts As Keshia says: “Nourish Your Soul!” Join us for #ChalkArtSaturdays and make chalk art outside your home for neighbors to see from the safety of their daily walks – and share photos with these hashtags: #SalemPublicArt #SalemTogether #ChalkArtSaturdays A new piece will go up every Saturday in May and June. Create your own Chalk Art safely outside your own doorstep. Fourth Chalk Art Mural Artist Bio Keshia de Leon of K Leon Creative Consulting is a Creative Educator, Artist, and Activist. Keshia has had the pleasure of working with a variety of students across the North Shore of Massachusetts. Through her work in Community Engagement and Mural installation he has gained a unique and honest artistic vision that guides her work. She brings her clients’ visions to life, while offering innovative curriculum and creative engagement for communities of all backgrounds. From creating murals and teaching visual arts courses, to consulting on architectural projects, she does it all. Find out more about her work: . @salempublicart @creativenorthshore @creativecollectivema @essexcountycreates . @annadidathing @recycleds0uls @kleonarts @maiamattson

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Follow on Instagram for weekly art prompts

“It’s hard to get the word out, especially to people who don’t necessarily have internet access. And when we’re doing the pieces, I’ve talked to people as they walk by, but we’re just not reaching as many people.” 

One of the ways they are trying to reach more people, especially community youth, is through chalk drop offs in grab and go lunches around the city. When asked if they could help in the process, Creative Collective, with the help of B*tru productions, was able to track down 800 packs of chalk for Salem Public Schools that went out this week.

Join in for Chalk Art Saturdays every Saturday from tomorrow until June 27th! It’s a great way to practice social distancing while being outside and making art. 

* Note: sure you can buy chalk, but you can also make it. Here’s how – and we recommend methods 2 or 3 because the ingredients are a little easier to come by. 

** For spotlight on social media, make sure to use the hashtags #SalemPublicArt, #SalemTogether, and #ChalkArtSaturdays

Click here for an up to date listing of Virtual Experiences

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