A Growing Public Art Tradition

ChalkFest at Reston Town Center returns Sept. 9 and 10

By Janet Rems, IPAR Communications Chair

Chalk by its very nature is an ephemeral artistic medium. But the fun and satisfaction—and camaraderie if done as a group—derived from uninhibitedly expressing your inner artist with chalk can be a truly memorable experience.

For the past three years, those rewards have been repeatedly affirmed by the growing popularity of ChalkFest at Reston Town Center.

Rain or shine, the next ChalkFest will take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 and 10, at Reston Town Center. It will be open to professional artists/sponsors/ on Friday from noon to 11 p.m. and everyone on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Sept. 3, a free Chalk Workshop with artist Patrick Owens will be offered at the center 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The “canvas” will be 4-by-8-feet and 4-by-4-feet spaces all along Market Street. In addition to the sheer joy of creating street-art with chalk, the ChalkFest will award prizes in various categories, including the People’s Choice Awards.

ChalkFest draws a wide range of participants and an even larger group of visitors. In 2015, more than 2,000 visitors participated in ChalkFest programming, exceeding expected goals.

The idea of creating a Reston Chalkfest was initially suggested in 2009 from well-known community activist Bill Bouie, vice chair of the IPAR Board, chairman of the Fairfax County Park Authority Board and a longtime Reston Community Center board member. He was inspired by the annual Sidewalk Arts Festival, now a 35-year-old tradition at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where his daughter Kerri attended. Kerri, who earned a BFA from SCAD and is now a staff designer at Wingate-Hughes Architects, helped IPAR organize Reston Town Center’s first ChalkFest and remains involved. In a fortuitous meeting of minds, about the same time, David Youst, of Boston Properties, suggested Reston Town Center as a ChalkfFest location.

Professional artist Penny Hauffe, who has participated in both Reston Chalk festivals from their inceptions, is major fan of the art form. Hauffe, whose chalk works have won many awards, including a first place at the June Chalk on the Water festival at Lake Anne Village Center, says they have “opened my eyes to a whole new—okay, new to me—world of art.”

She adds, “I’ve always enjoyed painting in public places for the social interaction it invites. There is something about a chalk festival that really appeals to people on all levels and from all walks of life, and it gives me a chance to share my artistic vision.”

Similarly, for Anne Delaney, IPAR’s executive director, the success of the Chalkfests comes directly from how they engage people of all ages and artistic skills. “Kids and amateur artists get to draw alongside professional artists,” she says, “and it is as much a family event as an opportunity for professional artists to showcase their skills and meet other artists.”

Another important dividend, Delaney emphasizes, is “to remind the community of the inherent joy in art and the importance of public art.”

For ChalkFest at Reston Town Center information and to sign up, visit ChalkFest’s website at  www.chalkfest.us.

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