Sidewalks become canvases for chalk art

August 07, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Kathryn Stella creates a piece of sidewalk chalk art Sunday in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Remember the children’s warning that if you step on a crack, you’ll break you mother’s back?

Stepping on a crack in downtown Shepherdstown Sunday afternoon would damage hours of hard work by some talented artists.

About 20 of them donned kneepads, knelt on pillows or sat on concrete to transfer creative thoughts onto sun-baked slabs of sidewalk and street blacktop.

Several were professional artists, including Mary-Anna Ronquillo of Oak Island, N.C., who was creating a koi pond on North King Street; David F. Heatwole of Martinsburg, W.Va., whose large orange Orthodox cross sat on a blue background to symbolize salvation and new beginnings; and Virginia muralists Sandy Payne of Sterling and Tim Knepp of Manassas, who were working on an illusion using a green tree frog as the main subject.

The theme of the day was “Our Natural World,” said Andrea Humphreys, who coordinated the event with Anne Rule-Thompson.

The festival was a fundraiser for the Children’s Tree House Child Development Center at the National Conservation Training Center north of Shepherdstown, and CraftWorks at Cool Spring, which hosts arts and nature classes at an 81-acre preserve near Charles Town, W.Va.

A panel of four judges will decide the best overall work and award a $200 cash prize to the winner.

Among area artists participating was Sheri Fiolek of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., the art teacher at Page Jackson Elementary School in Charles Town.

She was sitting in front of Two Rivers Treads, a downtown shoe store specializing in minimalist running and walking shoes.

Her creation featured footsteps of a person in modern shoes coming down the sidewalk; they turn into bare feet as the walker passes by the store’s front door before stepping into a mud puddle that signifies nature, Fiolek said.

Sonya Evanisko of Shepherdstown was sitting at her block of sidewalk painting a bird on a tomato pincushion.

“It’s about the fragile balance between humans and nature,” she said.

Many of Shepherdstown’s streets are made of brick, a media that’s impossible for chalk painting. In those cases, black chalkboards became the canvas.

Photographer Melanie Brownsmith of Harpers Ferry was chalking an image of daisy petals, an idea taken from one of her photographs.

Brother and sister artists Dakota and Corihanna DiMarino, 10 and 12, respectively, of Martinsburg were getting ready to start their creations, a solar car for Dakota and a globe for Corihanna. She said it signifies “how our natural world sustains us and how we should treat it with care.”

Seven vendors specializing in arts and crafts lined both sides of North King Street.

“This is a nice event for Shepherdstown,” said Mayor Jim Auxer. “It’s something that hasn’t been done before.”

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