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Visual Art

Chalk It Up

Volume One`s Chalkfest brings temporary art to Wilson Park

Claire Jeffries, photos by Nick Meyer |

Imagine an event where you can color on public property without the need for bail money. Chalkfest is an event for you to express your concrete ideas on, well ... concrete. All of the sidewalks in downtown’s Wilson Park will be taken over for the day. Registered artists receive everything they need, and then have the entire day to create massive chalk masterpieces alongside other professional and amateur artists from around the valley.

But, you say, I can’t be a part of Chalkfest, my drawing ability is a complete failure, kind of like the sequels to “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Never fear, there’s tons more to do at Chalkfest: food, music, admiring the art, Pictionary tournaments, timed portrait/still-life matches, and more. There will also be an area for the younger children to participate in the kids’ mural. And finally, in the evening the park will be laced with hundreds of lights for the closing reception.

Chalkfest comes to you via the crew here at Volume One, spearheaded by publisher/editor Nick Meyer. “Actually, as with many great ideas, this was completely stolen,” said Meyer. Several communities around the country (including as close as Wausau) produce similar events. After Volume One brought the idea to Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. in 2006, DECI produced a small trial run of Chalkfest during their Summerfest event in 2007. This year, Saturday, Aug. 9 will mark Chalkfest’s official launch as an event all its own, running in conjunction with DECI’s Summerfest just down the street.

Although the entire day will be entertaining, Meyer is especially excited for the Night Light Reception. “It was inspired by the fountain in the park, which lights up the trees at night,” Meyer said. Volume One is going to dramatically enhance the effect by outlining the sidewalks and finished artwork in vintage holiday lights and highlighting the trees with floodlights from above and below. During the reception, cash prizes for the audience’s chosen top five artists will be awarded, music will set the mood, and food and beverages will continue to be available. You can probably expect a few surprises thrown in, too.


Artists, how can you pass this up? It’s a new way to challenge your technique, and you’ll have a rare live audience. The goal of Chalkfest is to “keep the event about the art and the artist,” Meyer said. It’s an event of pure art, unconfused by the tossing in of additional attractions.

Regular people, how can you pass this up? It’s a unique event that Eau Claire has never seen before. Parents, it’s a perfect time to let your kids be inspired by the artwork of talented locals, and to draw out their creative energy. Better at the park than on your walls.

What’s more, DECI’s annual Summerfest is just down Barstow Street, featuring a classic car show, street dance, vendors, and more.

Of course, Chalkfest would not be possible without the support of the community. Organizations who have helped make this new event possible include: Downtown Eau Claire Inc., Deborah Becker State Farm Insurance, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and the Benny Haha Art Supply and Gallery. Additional thanks to the Altoona School District, and the Eau Claire Parks and Rec Department, EC Printing, and Melting Pot Prints.

Chalkfest is going to be a crazy creative event, so put down your magazine, turn off your television, and pause your video game. This is something you have to get out and see. I mean, who doesn’t love painting public property?

Chalkfest. Saturday, Aug. 9 at Wilson Park. Public viewing begins at 11am with music, food, and chalk games all day. Night-Light Reception 8:30-11pm with music, art, lights, and projection. FREE admission. 552-0457.