Sarasota Chalk Festival by Pamela Beck

I stopped by to look at the Interactive 3D pavement art. Over a dozen well known international artists were creating their circus inspired compositions right before the eyes of an awed crowd.

Pamela Beck

Pamela Beck

There are as many ways to think about art as there are to create it. Join Pamela Beck in her column, ARTdart, as she explores and considers the different perspectives that define the art world.


For many of us, childhood memories of drawing with chalk on the sidewalk are not very interesting and often the source of conflict. We used chalk to make arbitrary but enforceable boundaries (Your ball went over the line, so now you’re out!); to play tic tac toe (No, you can’t go first until you finally win one, you crybaby.); and to draw pictures on someone’s driveway until the unimpressed owner invariably came out and yelled “Hey you, Picasso. Go find somewhere else to paint your masterpiece.”

If only there had been something like the Sarasota Chalk Festival in our town. Then we might have earned some respect as we honed our artistic skills for possible future festival participation! (Maybe even hothead neighbor would have piped down.)

And respect and admiration is just what’s in the air when you walk around “Circus City, USA,” this year’s Chalk Festival, a bow to Sarasota’s circus history. For ten days, this free festival spans 300-600 South Pineapple Avenue in Burns Square and currently runs through November 6th.

I stopped by to look at the Interactive 3D pavement art. Over a dozen well-known international artists were creating their circus inspired compositions right before the eyes of an awed crowd. Standing aloft on a two-story scaffold nearby these artists, was Kurt Wenner himself, the celebrated innovator of this art form. He was directing his own crew of artists from Japan, Germany, Italy and Mexico as they created a complicated, original and beautiful work of visual illusion, premiering a new Wenner technique designed for the festival. This elaborate, massive, intricate piece is a must see for both its extraordinary imagery and eye teasing technique.

Between November 1-6, visitors will be able to step into these artworks and among many options, they can strike a pose with lions, kiss an elephant or perch on a clown’s palm. In this unlikely street setting, experiencing art so directly, surrounded by giggles and cries of disbelief, I can’t imagine that even a killjoy could resist attempting an imaginary balancing act along the high wire painted on the street.

Kurt Wenner’s assistants working on his chalk painting for the 2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival. Photo by Pamela Beck

The 2D pavement artists will chalk between November 2nd-4th. Their finished artwork can be viewed November 5th and 6th. And don’t forget to look up as well– painters, spray can and airbrush artists are going vertical, creating artworks on pre-approved private walls around the city. Over five hundred artists are participating in all of these events.

At different times throughout the festival, there are performances of music, dance, acrobats, and street performers, along with special events. The information for all of these can be found on the festival website under “Events.”

To expand on what you learn from your direct chats with the artists on the streets, Clothesline Gallery and Boutique, at 529 South Pineapple, is presenting “Creative Conversations Chalk Festival Series.” In a six-session format, festival artists discuss their work and inspiration with a moderator and the audience. So far, there’s been one interview with Leon Keer from Holland. I like how he described his work: “I never explain my paintings but can say that I am interested in everyday things. I look through old magazines for ideas. I try to paint people’s forgotten stories and encourage others to remember their own stories and retain their memories.”

“Forgotten stories”- one small, beautiful fragment of information like that, helps me see different things in Keer’s work. Henry Darnell is the next artist in this series. He’s up today, November 1st at 7PM.

This festival starts off with a strong sense of anticipation built-in to it. Watching the art being made, you think that its completion will be the cherry on the cake. But along the way, the personal interaction among the audience, artists and the art itself combined with the closing down of the streets for the art, festival guests and visitors, makes the entire Chalk Festival experience an immensely satisfying end unto itself. (Probably like years ago, when the circus village rolled into town.)

At one point, a Swedish family with two girls about ten and twelve years old, stood next to me on the street. We watched the artists chalk on the pavement below us. Soon the mother and I began to talk.

“We wanted to take a vacation with our girls. We knew about Sarasota’s beaches and cultural activities, but when we heard about the Chalk Festival, we thought the girls would love it; so we booked our trip for this week.”

“How have they liked it?” I asked.

“They love the paintings and can’t believe they’re done so well and in chalk. But what my husband and I didn’t expect is the spirit on these streets. Even though everyone is working on their own thing, and many from different countries, it feels like everyone’s connected. It’s very moving.”

For events, hours, address, directions, info and all schedules:
www.chalkfestival.org


To read more about Pamela, view these links:
http://srxq.blogspot.com/
http://whatdogsreallythink.blogspot.com/

A HUNDRED YEARS – A HUNDRED CHAIRS Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum

May 19 – September 16, 2012
Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum provides an opportunity to contemplate the fascinating history of chair design. Assembled from the expansive holdings of one of the world’s foremost design museums, this exhibition allows us to consider the aesthetic, technological and manufacturing concerns expressed through the design of the most ubiquitous of objects, the chair.

May 19 – September 16, 2012
Tampa Museum of Art

A Hundred Years – A Hundred Chairs. Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum provides an opportunity to contemplate the fascinating history of chair design. Assembled from the expansive holdings of one of the world’s foremost design museums, this exhibition allows us to consider the aesthetic, technological and manufacturing concerns expressed through the design of the most ubiquitous of objects, the chair.

The exhibition begins in the last decades of the 19th century with curved wooden furniture that lent itself to mass-production. It was the introduction of the mass- produced object that changed the course of subsequent design. At the outset of the 20th century, design played a significant role in cultural development. Gerrit Rietveld designed furniture with simple lines, while Marcel Breuer created the first tubular steel chairs. This lightness in shape was subsequently a source of inspiration for Alvar Aalto, who was the first to use plywood, and for Jean Prouvé, who started to use techniques and materials that had previously only been used by the aeronautical industry.

Following the Second World War, design became a key element of daily life. American designers began to collaborate closely with industry. Designers like Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen and Harry Bertoia came up with designs that would be used for the mass production of furniture for American homes while in Europe, furniture design was developing mainly in Italy and Scandinavia. At the same time, the many designers wanted to make designer goods more accessible to the general public. Hans Wegner and Arne Jacobsen were forerunners in Scandinavian countries in creating wooden furniture, while the Italians turned their attention to more novel materials like plastic.

The considerable malleability of these materials, together with the development of new types of foam, gave rise to a wealth of creative fantasy in the sixties. At that time, Pop Art provided a source of inspiration and designers played on form and colour. The main representatives of this trend were Verner Panton and Joe Colombo. Later, in the seventies, designs became even more radical, leading to the emergence of opposition to the rules of Modernism. Groups of designers such as Memphis or Archizoom emphasized the amusing and playful nature of forms rather than functionality.

More recently, the eighties were marked by a search for individualism and pluralism, and the result was the emergence of a variety of remarkably novel approaches. Philippe Starck, Ron Arad and Gaetano Pesce are leading representatives of this trend. A search for simple but innovative shapes and materials found in the work of Frank Gehry and Jasper Morrison characterized the nineties. And finally, fantasy remains an indispensable criterion in the conception of forms as witnessed in the work of Ron Arad and Marc Newson.

Reproductions of drawings, sketches and documents belonging to the Vitra Design Museum accompany the chairs on display, and seven films reveal the manufacturing process of some of the chairs, giving the spectator general insight into different production techniques.