Looking ahead to the Sarasota Chalk Festival

The indomitable Denise Kowal, volunteer head of the Sarasota Chalk Festivalplans to outdo herself again, promising that this year’s will be the biggest and best Chalk Festival yet. The Festival will run from October 28 to November 6, 2012. In recent years, this growing event has reached international acclaim, bringing artists from all over the world to our Gulf shores in search of pavement on which to create their wondrous chalk renderings. It became the first international street painting festival in 2010. In this fifth season, over 500 artists will participate, and the event will draw over 200,000 visitors, including 5,000 children. Not to mention the fact that this whole event is perfectly free!

For the uninitiated, Burns Court will be bustling this fall with master artists creating elaborate drawings up and down the city streets. And, in true Buddhist fashion, all of the drawings are ephemeral and fade away nearly as quickly as they’re completed. This year’s theme will honor our city’s rich history of circus tradition. Kowal even has plans for two life-sized elephants to be available as a “canvas” for the chalk renderings. There will be hundreds of themed street performers. And, she gushed, “there will even be mermaids!”

Some big news this year is that pavement artist David Brancato has been selected as one of a dozen artists from around the world to work with Kurt Wenner, innovator of 3D pavement art, beginning on October 28. Brancato, an Orlando native, began working with chalk on the pavement in 1998, and has won several first place awards in the Disney Festival of the Masters. After taking a break from chalk for several years, he picked it back up again in 2010 when invited to participate in the Festival. This inspired him to take up his career as an artist again and enroll at Ringling College of Art and Design by 2011 in the Computer Animation program.

Brancato will help Wenner with an oversized 3D circus composition Wenner is designing for this year’s Festival, and Wenner will debut a new technique that he has never tried before. The last large-scale work of this magnitude that Wenner completed was in 1991 for Pope John Paul II in Mantua, Italy. The Pope even signed the work itself sanctioning pavement art as an official form of Sacred Art.

The process of developing the work of art is a performance of its own, and the public is invited to watch it unfold before their very eyes! Once it is completed, the public can interact with the work and even take photos that make it appear that they are in the work itself.

Please tune in for more Sarasota Chalk Festival developments from me on This Week in Sarasota, including more on “The Future Madonnari” children’s chalk area with a professional artist on hand to help the youngest festivalgoers find their inner chalk artist.

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