Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect

The 22nd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival attracts 100,000 people to see art in the making

By Carl Kozlowski 06/11/2014

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Most people think art is something to observe in a museum or gallery. But here in Pasadena there are about 600 artists each year who believe in making it a lot more accessible. In fact, they’ll be taking their skills to the streets Saturday and Sunday when the 22nd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival is held at and around Paseo Colorado Mall.

Let’s face it, without being outdoors, the fest couldn’t accommodate the crowds of more than 100,000 people who come to watch an average of 200 works of art get created from start to finish each year. And that attendance is the reason Pasadena’s event is the largest street painting festival in the world.

Organized by the unique local nonprofit Light Bringer Project, which also brings the Doo Dah Parade to town each year, the fest gives over 25,000 sticks of pastel chalks to hundreds of madonnari (Italian for street painters), who spend the weekend on their hands and knees creating murals over three city blocks of sidewalk space. The results come in all sorts of styles, from classical art to futuristic visions and are designed either by individuals or teams sponsored by art schools, museums and cultural centers. 

“We’ve created five different zones and can figure who’s in what zone and where to find them,” says Patricia Hurley of the Light Bringer Project. “The artists themselves know what they’re going to draw and they send us sketches in advance. A lot of young people are attracted to the festival because of superheroes and characters they see on television, but the free range creativity is overwhelming and like eye candy. 

“There’s no time window, because you can go in the morning and watch the process and how they’re approaching the drawings, and there could be 100 different ways,” Hurley continues. “They can see an artist start, see a movie or have a meal then come back and see more, then see night and day if they come back the next day. It’s a discovery process every step of the way.” 

If that isn’t enough to entertain families, guests can enjoy live music throughout the fest and children can make Father’s Day cards for their dads in the Kid’s Chalkland play area. There will also be a Pasadena Police Classic Car Show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday featuring classic and fun cars in addition to the Pasadena police helicopter. 

The 22nd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Paseo Colorado Mall, 280 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Admission is free. Visit pasadenachakfestival.com

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