The Shops at Riverwoods recently held its fifth annual Chalk the Block festival over the weekend.
Although Chalk the Block has a long-standing reputation among Provo residents, it faced a challenge this year: nonstop rain during the majority of the event.
The event ran from Thursday, Sept. 22 to Saturday, Sept. 24, featuring live music, art classes and local artisans. It drew in more than 300 artists who spent hours chalking the streets of the Riverwoods.
Artists used leaf blowers, tarps and other coverings to prevent their art from being ruined by the rain. Although artists were given three days to complete their drawings, many found themselves starting over on the second and third day because of rain damage.
Jodie Kiser, a chalk artist at the event and winner of the “Best in Show 1st Place” award, said this wasn’t the first time the festival experienced rain. She pointed out that it wasn’t a deterrent for her.
“I know it discourages a lot of people,” Kiser said. “The first year we did it…it poured down rain. And at that point we kind of freaked out and realized that everyone’s in the same boat. We all are dealing with the rain and you just go with the flow of the rain. You look for dry spots and you work on them.”
Julie Kirk Purcell, a class instructor and one of the featured chalk artists, said she loves chalk art because it allows artists to share their work in a different way.
“It’s really private being a visual artist sometimes,” Purcell said. “Your only real outlet for talking about your art is galleries, which can be really stuffy. This is one way to get art out to people who wouldn’t normally go to a gallery.”
Chalk art is also special because of its unique ability to unite diverse people and communities, according to Purcell.
“I’ll go to festivals where you’ve got homeless people hanging out with you and wanting to see the paintings, street kids, and you’ve also got really well-off people,” Purcell said. “You’ve got mixed people all enjoying something.”
Scott Evanson of Pleasant Grove said this was his family’s third year attending Chalk the Block. He came to the event with his wife, Heather, and his children, Millie and Porter, to appreciate the work of local artists.
“We’re always looking for something fun on the weekends to do with our kids and get out,” Evanson said. “We look forward to this because it’s more fun than just your typical ‘go to the park.’ We love coming to the Riverwoods.”
Purcell promises that the Chalk the Block festival can appeal to almost anyone.
“That’s the beauty of it with chalk: there are so many different types of work. Even if everything doesn’t appeal to you, even if you don’t like old art, you’ll find something. Somebody’s gonna do a cartoon or something that you love, or a movie thing,” Purcell said. “There’s something for everybody and something for every level of art appreciation.”