Friday, October 21, 2011

Chalk on Concrete

We continue our walk along Date Street....

In celebration of Italy's 150th anniversary of unification as a republic, Little Italy, San Diego, will feature a re-creation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling during FESTA!, its annual celebration.

The re-creation of this complex design has been edited to fit the time frame (2 days) and space (1 city block) of Gesso Italiano, the chalk art, or street painting, portion of FESTA!

Central to the ceiling decoration are nine scenes from the book of Genesis.

As we watched some of the approximately 140 artists, representing 40 teams from across the nation, create colorful works of art, I began to feel pain in my knees. Just imagining having to be working in a contorted position in a small space was enough for my joints to begin aching.

In the foreground of the photo above are portions of scenes entitled "Separation of Light from Darkness" (left in photo) and "Sibyl Libyan" (on the right). Above these two scenes (and in the photo, right) is a portion of the scene entitled
"Creation of Sun and Moon."

Cracks in the street only served to add a quality of age to these concrete "canvasses."

On the left is the scene entitled
"Original Sin."

The artists first fill in spaces with the colored chalk sticks, then smooth the surface and blend the colors using either their bare hands or gloved hands.

The "Pro-phet Isaiah" is shown on the right and the "Sacri-fice of Noah" is re-created below.

Work on some of the sections had begun the night before, and even though they were covered overnight, we wondered how they could be protected in the event of rain.

One artist used a long pole with a piece of chalk attached to one end to trace a very rough outline of his figures.

Then comes the challenge of working in one direction, making sure that each segment is completed before moving on. There is a small space around the borders of each work area to do some touch-ups, but once the center is completed, there is no opportunity to crawl into the work area to make changes.

The final re-creation of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was expected to measure 18 feet by 46 feet. The final production should really be seen from above to get the full impact of the work.

We continued our walk to see the other works completed by artists.

Cecelia Linayo, a local artist in charge of the project, was quoted on the Little Italy webpage: “Street painting is very much a perfor-mance art. You have the opportunity to talk and interact with the artist and ask about their method. People
will also realize how low-tech street painting is: You’re only using your hands, no electronics. It really does feel like a throwback to the Renaissance; it’s a great lesson in history.”

Participants ranged from a team of high school students to professional artists.

I was able to photograph Lori Escalera as she posed with her completed work. While the newspaper photographer shot from a ladder, I, and several others in the crowd, grabbed these street-level poses.

In a few hours, the reality of the brief "lifespan" of chalk art would be realized.

The city streets were washed later that night.

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