Rock, Chalk: Street Art

Rock, Chalk: Street Art

Ephemeral art gets moment in sun at new festival


“Chalk is familiar and accessible; most people have drawn on the sidewalk with chalk,” says Holly York, a senior museum educator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “This festival takes the medium to the next level and introduces guests to the artistry of chalk. It’s incredible to see what these artists can do with chalk.”

York says this year’s inaugural Chalk Festival — set for Aug. 10-11 — was inspired by Chalktober Fest, sponsored by the Marietta Cobb Museum in Marietta, Ga. But chalk is trendy worldwide. A blog called BookAStreetArtist talks about it as both art and marketing in Germany, Australia and Japan.

“Chalk art is always designed for a specific place and audience,” the blog quotes artist Hiromi Moriya. And in the case of Crystal Bridges, that audience is members of the community who might otherwise be less likely to visit the museum.

“This family-friendly festival not only features 25 artists from around the county, but also art making, music, face painting, lawn games, food trucks and an Ale Trail,” York says. “A chalk festival is a way to engage visitors in a different kind of art experience and activate new outdoor spaces.”

Along with local makers — among them Amber Winters Perrodin and Octavio Logo — the Chalk Festival welcomes an unusual artistic duo, father and daughter Ken and Aislynn Mullen from Florida.

“I like working with my dad; he’s influenced how I work as an artist, so it’s usually pretty easy to work together since we’ve been doing it for so long,” Aislynn says. “These days we mostly work separately but enjoy doing similar pieces; some ideas we have coming up are doing Thor and Loki and Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.”

“That is the best part of chalking for me,” Ken adds. “Chalk festivals give us a chance to spend quality time together, doing something that we both love. We occasionally work on the same piece, like a 3-D image of Arnold Schwarzenegger that Aislynn and I collaborated on this year, but more often than not we just attempt to complement each other’s themes.”

Neither one expected chalk to be their medium of choice.

“A chalk festival started in my hometown about 25 years ago,” Ken explains. “It is an old medium, but the idea of a chalk festival was foreign to me. A friend had signed up and invited me to help. The experience hooked me, and I just kept going back for more.”

“I always enjoyed doing art, but I never really latched on to any particular medium until I started working with chalk,” Aislynn says. “I think the combination of the performance art aspect and the time limit just inspired me to try other festivals.”

Both agree that while the medium is a familiar one, it’s also more challenging than one might imagine.

“So many factors go into creating a good piece,” Aislynn says. “How good the surface you’re working on is, what the weather is like, how much chalk you need to put down, even your mood can affect how your piece turns out! Definitely for me I have to be in a good headspace because if I don’t like how it’s turning out, the final product won’t be up to my standards.”

“I love to do portraits, so detail is critical. That is the challenge — detail,” Ken says. “Especially when working on smaller scale image. For most festivals we do the equivalent of a 10-by-10 image, which is more forgiving, but anything smaller can be difficult to effectively capture detail. You just have to take your time and be patient and hope for the best.”

Chalk is, of course, ephemeral, and sometimes that adds to the magic.

“Nothing beats chalking on the street in my opinion,” Aislynn says, “and I feel there’s more of a sense of appreciation for the art because of its impermanence.”

“The best that you can do is cross your fingers that the weather holds long enough to get a few good photos, then post them in a portfolio or on social media and let the art live on there,” Ken says.



Chalk Festival

WHEN — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 10; noon-6 p.m. Aug. 11

WHERE — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville

COST — Free; a $10 Ale Trail ticket is available for adults

INFO — 657-2335,



Chalk Festival


Arkansas — Amber Winters Perrodin, Hubert Neal Jr., Octavio Logo

Florida — Aislynn Mullen, Beth Shistle, Jennifer Nichols Chaparro, Ken Mullen

Texas — Anat Ronen, Fernando Andrade, Liza Fishbone

New York — Anthony Cappetto,

Washington, D.C. — Chelsea Ritter-Soronen

Colorado — Corbin Hillam

Arizona — Eli Farias, Holly Lynn Schineller

Georgia — Fawne DeRosia

Indiana — Jasmine Pilkinton, Jeff Pilkinton (also father and daughter)

Tennessee — Jennifer Richardson, Tyler Key

Ohio — Jennifer RoJeanne, Sheryl Lazenby

Missouri — Joan Finn

Utah — Tonya Youngberg

Categories: Cover Story