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Chalk the Walk

The army of workers toiling in the sun

The army of workers toiling in the sun

Ever year, the small town of Mt. Vernon, IA holds their Chalk the Walk Festival. During this event local artists and ordinary townsfolk overtake main street to transform the pavement from plan asphalt into works of art, using only colored chalk. Several dozen parking space sized creations line downtown, with one giant, road covering master piece the focal point. This center piece is created entirely by amateurs, with small groups each completing a square several feet across. Through this community effort and some impressive planning, these individual sections merge into a seamless collage depicting the selected painting. In the past this center piece has been a recreation of traditional art classics, such as A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte or Stone City, by Iowa’s own Grant Wood. In 2008 however, they decided to make something a little more pop cultural, A Bold Bluff. Some cigars and alcohol were removed though, to make it politically correct for kids to help create it. Nonetheless, it would still be an impressive creation. The small town newspaper, The Sun, has a write up on the poker dogs creation.

Sneaking past the rope for a picture of the work in progress (while wearing my DPP shirt)

Sneaking past the rope for a picture of the work in progress (while wearing my DPP shirt)

Luckily enough for me, this giant DPP creation was also situated only twenty minutes from my house. So I could behold the glory first hand and return with some pictures to share. Unfortunately, the only image I have of the complete A Bold Bluff is really poor. I did not take it until after the street had reopened and could not climb high enough for a good angle.

I must say, even outside the awesome DPP painting, I was truly amazed at the artwork created. Perhaps it was that I have no artistic bones in my body, or that the only thing I ever created with chalk was a hopscotch board, but all the pieces was amazing. I had no idea such detailed works could be created with just chalk. The artists’ ability to blend colors and portray their vision in what superficially seems to be such a transient, constraining medium was impressive. For anyone that has a chance, Chalk the Walk is worth experiencing, even if they do not happen to have giant poker dogs that year. A pretty complete list of the artwork created in 2008 can be found in another person’s Flickr album.

“A Bold Bluff” made from chalk

The final product. Sorry for the poor quality.


Irony—A dog spray painting a depiction of DPP

Me sitting next to a mostly finished chalk creation of a dog spray painting a depiction of dogs playing poker
The finished creation of a dog spray painting a depiction of dogs playing poker

Dog Painting Poker

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