Santa Clarita Chalk Festival kicks off after three-year hiatus

Artist Jose Barba works to create a chalk impression of Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" on Main Street's blacktop pavement in Newhall during the 2018 Chalk Art Festival. Austin Dave/The Signal

Rudy Pavini spent two and half hours on the morning of his 84th birthday recreating Monet’s “Red Boats, Argenteuil” out of chalk on asphalt. Pavini, a muralist and retired teacher, is one of the 34 artists and art groups participating in the 2018 Santa Clarita Chalk Festival presented by the Old Town Newhall Association.

The three-day festival, themed “Wonder, Wit, & Whimsy,” occupies one block of Main Street in Old Town Newhall and will feature original art and recreations of famous works. This is the first year the festival has operated since it went into hiatus after a test run in 2015, said Sue Bird, the association’s chairman.

“The festival was inspired by Bella Villa, which was a chalk festival held about 20 years ago in the mall,” Bird said. “It was always a positive community event, and we thought it would be a good event to start up again and bring to Newhall since it has been designated the arts and events community in our district.”

Artists began working at the festival on Friday at 10 a.m. and are scheduled to continue working until Sunday. On Saturday, the festival is set to host a “Walk on Newhall” event where attendees will be given passports to go visit 12 different businesses in Newhall. Guests who complete their passports between 10 a.m. and noon have the chance to win $100 worth of products from the Newhall Farmers’ Market.

On Sunday, dancers from the Center Stage Dance Academy are scheduled to perform in collaboration with professional street painter Lorelle Miller, who is contributing the multidimensional piece “Fairy Garden in a Teacup” to the festival.

Miller, whose piece was inspired by spending time in gardens and painting outside, said the three-dimensional nature of her piece created by its backdrop forces people to feel like they are fairy-sized and encourages participation with the art.

“People don’t often have the chance to see artists working in their studios, so festivals like this allow us to bring that process out on the street,” Miller said. “It’s educational.”

Some of the event’s sponsors were also present Friday to show their support for the festival. Tom Christensen, chief financial officer for Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers Inc., said he appreciates local events like this because aside from being fun for the whole family, they keep people in their hometown and help support the economy by bringing attention and business to the stores surrounding the festival.

Kaylie Capra, director of first impressions at RE/MAX, said she appreciates artistic events because they allow adults and children to glimpse into the minds of the artists and offer an example of nonverbal communication.

The festival runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Despite some of the artists wishing that the art would be left to fade on its own, the art will be washed off after 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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