Chalk Stars

The sidewalks of downtown Jamestown will receive a temporary makeover during the second annual Great Jamestown ChalkWalk.

Jamestown Now, Michaels, the Jamestown Renaissance Center, Southern Tier Brewing Company, Northwest Savings Bank, The Pub and Forte have teamed up to host a downtown event that will feature the work of more than 30 regional artists. Set for Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., the ChalkWalk will challenge novice and experienced chalk artists alike to cover Jamestown’s sidewalks with works of art. In addition to getting exposure, the artists will also compete for $1,200 in cash prizes.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature activities for children in Wintergarden Plaza, live entertainment by Velvet Cabbies from 1-4 p.m. and a 6:30 p.m. concluding award reception with food, beer and wine at The Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center. Artists who participate in the ChalkWalk will also have the opportunity to display their work during the reception.

According to Vanessa Weinert, committee member and organizer, the event, which featured 20 artists last year, has grown to include more than 30. One of the reasons Jamestown Now decided to continue the program is because the artists enjoyed participating, and it drew more than 200 spectators downtown to watch them work, she said.

“Last year was beyond our expectations,” Weinert said. “The idea behind the ChalkWalk was to have a community arts event where people turn the streets of Jamestown into public art. Not only does it provide artists with extra exposure, but it also gives them a different media to work with.”

Last year’s winner, Christopher Balaskas, is a Jamestown-based artist who is originally from Massachusetts. According to Balaskas, its cool to see the streets of Jamestown smothered in art. Last year his piece was about 5 by 8 feet, and this year he plans on going for 6 by 20 feet.

“I want to try and top what I did last year by going bigger and bolder,” Balaskas said. “I really had no idea what I was going to do last year, which is how I usually do things when it comes to chalk, and it wound up being this giraffe, horse like beast with the whole city on its back, a sunset, mountains and a river at its feet – it looked crazy.

“It’s a good opportunity for artists because you get to meet all the other ones,” he continued. “The atmosphere is very communal, even though there are prizes. I think everyone was enjoying the fact that we could all go out and do this at the same time. It’s like a huge workshop in the streets.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/balaskas or www.balaskas.deviantart.com.

Although there are already more than 30 artists signed up, Weinert said there is more than enough sidewalk to go around. Registration forms can be obtained by visiting www.facebook.com/jamestownnow, by emailing jamestownnow@gmail.com or by calling 483-5772. Completed forms are to be mailed to Jamestown Now, PO Box 848, Jamestown, NY, 14702. A $10 fee to participate is due on the day of the event.

Even if one is not an artist, there is another way for area residents to get involved further than spectating. Jamestown Now will accept donations during the ChalkWalk, which will help the organization plan future events.

“The goal of Jamestown Now is either to organize or support events that are happening in downtown Jamestown,” Weinert said. “We often hear these talks about Jamestown in the past, how Jamestown is moving toward a renaissance or the Jamestown of the future, but our philosophy is that Jamestown is great right now – hence Jamestown Now. It’s really about making downtown Jamestown a place that people walk through, stop and take a look at what’s happening around them.”