Provo chalk-art festival benefits children with autism (+photos)

Published: Friday, Sept. 13 2013 5:50 p.m. MDT

Dawn Wagner, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., has been chalking for 26 years. For Chalk the Block she is working on a trio of striking female faces by Rolf Armstrong. Wagner said she loves the interaction of chalk festivals, working with pastels and using an art form of her Italian heritage.

While she may not carb load before the festival like Rebecca Pletsch (a fellow artist) did this year, Wagner plans ahead. She thinks about the size and complexity of the piece, as well as what she calls the “chat factor,” so she can finish on time.

“It’s wonderful that it’s become such a loved art form, where originally it was just for begging for money on the streets,” Wagner said. “Now it’s just a beloved art form really celebrated in the United States, and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

Aimee Bohnam, an abstract artist in St. George, and Rebecca Pletsch, a BYU graduate and Provo resident, are the other two professionals participating this year.

Local college students from BYU and Utah Valley University are participating, as well as students representing 12 high schools from Draper to Payson.

A group from Timpview High’s art club checked on their piece during their lunch break Friday. They chalked a big, colorful lion as a team. Nathan McQuarrie, 17, and Rachel Sybwosky, 18, said it was the first time any of them had used chalk like that, but they were successful and learned a lot about teamwork. Sybwosky said the festival inspired them and they are planning a chalk festival at the school in the spring.

The festival has something for everyone: a farmer’s market, face painting, hair chalking, balloons, live entertainment and food vendors. There is free shuttle parking from outlying lots at Vivint and Imagine Learning. The free, three-day event ends Saturday at 10 p.m.

Email: madbrown@deseretnews.com

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