Chalk It Up transforms Houston Street into a blank canvas where artists and community members can pick up a stick of chalk and create a temporary piece of work until it dissolves with the passing days.
More than 50 student teams will compete to create the best chalk mural. Each team will be designated a plot of space on Houston Street to draw their mural, and Mayor Ivy Taylor will be present to announce the winners at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Community members not participating in the competition can create chalk murals in designated freestyle zones.
Mobile Om will be on site to lead yoga classes on Houston Street, the Guerilla Haiku Movement will encourage visitors to write spontaneous chalk haikus, and the San Antonio Museum of Art will create a chalk mural across from the Majestic Theatre.
But, despite its name, Chalk It Up has more than just chalk, its an art festival that showcases the work of contemporary artists in San Antonio.
“Traditionally in the past Chalk It Up has been seen as a family event, but this year we are pushing it as a contemporary art festival for the community, providing more aspects that hopefully appeal to a wider audience,” said Taylor Browning, Artpace’s assistant curator of education.
Past Artpace resident artists will host “Vacancy Via Artpace,” a day-long exhibit in the vacant Book Building at 140 E. Houston Street.
“(Chalk It Up) was founded to revitalize Houston Street and I think we have been a huge part of that revitalization,” Browning said.
Last year the festival attracted about 22,000 people who used 10,000 sticks of chalk to color the concrete on Houston Street.
In past years, Browning said there has been a “huge disconnect” between the contemporary art festival and the local nonprofit, Artpace, a contemporary art organization, gallery, and artist residency program founded by Linda Pace.
“Even though its only four blocks from Artpace, most people who come don’t know what Artpace is,” Browning said.
Slowly but surely, those at Artpace hope to morph the event into a large contemporary art festival that attracts big-name artists.
The event, sponsored by Argo Group, H-E-B, the 80/20 Foundation and others, funds Artpace’s free educational programs that serve thousands of San Antonio students, primarily in schools without art programs and teachers. According to figures from Artpace, Chalk it Up has raised $76,000 for education outreach to K-12 students in as well as teen and university programs.
*Top image: Young artists circle around a nearly finished drawing of an adirondack chair during Artpace’s 2014 Chalk It Up. Photo by Scott Ball.