#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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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
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