Showcase artist mural by local artist collective, Mas Rudas.
(U.S. Air Force Photo/ Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

More than 20,000 people are expected to celebrate and decorate Houston Street during Artpace San Antonio‘s 10th annual Chalk It Up festival Saturday, Oct. 12.

The free community event, which highlights Artpace’s year-round contemporary arts program, takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Houston Street between Main Avenue and Jefferson Street.

Chalk It Up attendees fill Houston Street in 2011 Photo by Francisco Cortes.
Chalk It Up attendees fill Houston Street in 2011. Photo by Francisco Cortes. (Photos courtesy of Artpace.)

Chalk It Up has grown and evolved substantially over this decade, according to Kaela Hoskings, Artpace curator of education.

“It shifted in terms of scope and purpose,” Hoskings said. “What started as a fundraiser put on by our development department turned into a community outreach event, with hopes of inspiring artists to continue their pursuits.”

Attendance has also grown over the years, with about 4,000 attending the first event. An estimated 11,000 pieces of chalk are used each year. And despite its name, Chalk It Up is more than just chalk.

Children of all ages participate in a previous year's Chalk It Up Kidzone. Photo by Todd Johnson.
Children of all ages participate in a previous year’s Chalk It Up Kidzone. Photo by Todd Johnson.

“The Kidzone projects will feature hands-on activities with found objects and materials, things like aluminum foil or cellophane,” Hoskings said. “The activities will relate to our current exhibitions at Artpace, and will give kids opportunities to work on both individual and collaborative projects.”

Inspiration for the Kidzone projects comes from Artpace founder Linda Pace’s “Orange Crush,” a monochromatic work of art on display in the Hudson (Show)Room. In keeping with that theme, Chalk It Up organizers are asking for donations of orange, green and red objects. Suggested items include toys, books and small household objects, as well as clean, recyclable materials. They can be dropped off at Artpace at 445 N. Main Ave. by Friday, Oct. 11.

Other Chalk It Up activities include a screenprinting booth where visitors can screenprint the Artpace logo on T-shirts or tote bags. New this year is a chalkboard photo booth. People can customize their photos by writing their own messages in the speech bubbles drawn on the chalkboard.

Hoskings said Chalk It Up is designed in a way that visitors can begin their artistic journey at any point in the four-block area.

Showcase artist mural by local artist collective, Mas Rudas.
A Chalk It Up showcase artist mural by local artist collective, Mas Rudas. Photo by Todd Johnson.

“We have it set up so that visitors can easily walk the entire footprint. There will be Kidzone projects on each end, with the stage in the center and everything else in between,” she said. She added that maps will be available on site, plus a map will be printed in the Oct. 10 issue of The Current.

Planning for Chalk It Up starts in earnest during the summer, although Hoskings said staff and committee members already start making notes for the next year during the actual event. The community committee has 23 members with various backgrounds and interests, all designed to make the event as comprehensive and collaborative as possible. For the day of the event, there’s a veritable army of volunteers – approximately 300.

“Many of them are returning volunteers,” Hoskings said, “But we also get many people who volunteer that day on site. They have such a great experience that they step up and say ‘How can I help?’ and they’ll stay around another couple of hours and donate their time. It’s fantastic.”

Artpace staffers and volunteers who make Chalk It Up happen. Photo by Todd Johnson.
Artpace staffers and volunteers who make Chalk It Up happen. Photo by Todd Johnson.

Artwork at the event will be created on several levels, with representatives from schools and organizations to premier visual artists and mural teams. Showcase artists have a concrete canvas measuring 15 by 20 feet, while other contenders work within four by six feet.

Featured artist creating a chalk masterpiece. Photo by Chris Saucedo.
Chalk It Up featured artist creates a chalk masterpiece. Photo by Chris Saucedo.

Delicious street fare will be offered on site, and in addition, all the area businesses on that stretch of Houston Street will be open. Several parking options exist, but Taylor Browning encourages visitors to take advantage of the free parking at Artpace.

Browning, the Assistant Curator of Education, Teen and University Programs, said beginning and ending Chalk It Up with a visit to Artpace is the perfect way to soak up the event and reflect on the day’s artistic experiences. Artpace is located two blocks north of the event, and there are several B-cycle stations nearby for those who would like to pedal their way around the event.

And it wouldn’t be a San Antonio event if it didn’t have music. Local bands featured at this year’s event include The In & Outlaws, Ken Little and Rodeo HoHo, Heavy Clay (formerly the The Marco Cholo Quintet), Villela, DJ Celeste LeSneak and DJ Shabbytiger.

More information can be found at and on Artpace’s Facebook page.

Annette Crawford is a public affairs officer at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. She is also the house photographer for the Majestic Theatre and Sam’s Burger Joint & Music Hall. You can read her music and travel blog at or follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @thegroovygringa.

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Annette Crawford

Annette Crawford

Annette Crawford is an Air Force veteran and has spent more than 30 years as a writer, editor, and public affairs officer. She is the house photographer at Sam’s Burger Joint & Music Hall.