Chalk Your Walk promotes artists in new way

Photos by Kayla Renie/The Herald
Beckett Franzel, 8, top, and his sister, Emerson, 12, draw a spring scene using chalk on the driveway of their home in Jasper on Thursday. Because of COVID-19, the 17th annual Jasper Community Arts Chalk Walk Festival opted to have participants create artwork in their own driveways and sidewalks in order to follow safe social distancing measures. "We wanted to do something happy and colorful," Emerson said.


JASPER — Some are simple — like a few pastel shades scribbled on a slab of concrete.

Others are ornate — like the bright neon jellyfish, or the spot-on depictions of famous cartoon characters, or the sprawling combinations of shapes that resemble stained glass windows.

Jasper’s annual Chalk Walk won’t take over the city’s Courthouse Square this summer. Instead, young artists who would have turned downtown pavement into bright canvases brought the event closer to home.

See a gallery of photos here

Redubbed as Chalk Your Walk, creatives across the area turned to their own sidewalks, driveways and more to keep the spirit of the long-running art festival alive.

A total of 119 entries were chalked up, photographed and submitted to the Jasper Community Arts Facebook page for voting. Winners from each category will be announced on that page on Saturday.

In a world that has become socially distant, the virtual fest still gave artists a way to feel connected to something bigger than themselves.

“I think kids are missing out on a lot of interactions that we’ve kind of taken for granted,” said Sarah Hulse, whose three daughters — Ava, Madi and Sammy — created a collage that included a big flower, animals and a rainbow.

Beckett Franzel, 8, colors in the sky of a spring scene using chalk on the driveway of their home in Jasper on Thursday.

Mom later added: “And I think doing this and being able to talk to their friends about it, and even having a project for the girls to work on together, kind of helps them fill that void.”

Emerson and Beckett Franzel made a sprawling spread filled with a sun sporting sunglasses, smiling clouds and other bits of nature. The siblings are regulars each year at Chalk Walk gatherings, and Emerson liked working with her brother to create their artwork.

“We just wanted to do something happy, with lots of colors,” said Emerson, who is 12. “And something we could each ... take part in.”

She likes looking at the other entries, too. If you scroll through the many photos posted on the community arts page, you’ll find loads of beautiful and bold works, including one meticulously crafted by 13-year-old Marley Hildenbrand.

The talented, aspiring artist created a depiction of a girl with black and green hair, looking ahead with big eyes and wearing an accessory that has become commonplace in the age of COVID-19: A protective face mask.

“I’ve been working a lot on drawing people, and I thought it would be a good way to not only practice my skills, but also kind of [make] something relevant at the same time,” Marley said.

Siblings Owen and Ava Gelhausen created chalk art of the family dog and a happy taco, respectively. Owen loves that dog. Ava does, too. She also loves tacos.

Her favorite part of Chalk Walk is the platform it gives her to highlight and show her work to a big audience.

“Most of the time I feel like I do really good, and I want other people to see that,” said Ava, 10.

And even though things are a little different this year, she, and many other children, still got to do just that.

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