What: Annual chalk street art festival
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday & Saturday, April 22 & 23
Who: All ages & skill levels
Where: Parking lot of National Bank of Arizona, 201 N. Montezuma St., Prescott
Why: Art, culture, music, & more, benefits the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation
Worth: Free, plus premiums with donations
BY THE NUMBERS
Last year’s Chalk It Up! Event included …
• 4,632 attendees (approx.)
• 1,544 registered chalkers, namely …
• 696 children
• 233 youth
• 615 adults
• 1,250-plus boxes of chalk handed out
• 1,457-plus squares colored
• 11 guest and featured artists
• 14 entertainers
• 99 official sponsors
• $12,000-plus raised for community mental health programs
Source: Wes Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation.
GUEST & FEATURED ARTISTS
• Lisa Bernal Brethour, Tempe
• Dana Cohn, Prescott
• Jeff Daverman, Prescott
• Dani Fisher & Stephane Leon/Clayote Studios, Prescott Valley
• Tywla Johnson, Imperial, Calif.
• Scott Mackenzie, Litchfield Park
• Lea & Ian Rankin/Rather Be Chalkin’, Youngtown (featured)
• Tim Ritter, Orlando, Fla.
• Holly Schineller, Tempe
• Jamie Tooley, Queen Creek
• The Van Patten Family, Prescott (featured)
• Kim Welsh, Prescott Valley
• Cass Womack, Brandon, Fla.
• Willie Zin, Long Beach, Calif.
By James Dungeon
[Editor’s note: The following interview was culled from conversations between the reporter and Meredith Brown, development assistant at West Yavapai Guidance Clinic and AmeriCorps Vista member. Chalk It Up! is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday & Saturday, April 22 & 23, in the parking lot of National Bank of Arizona, 201 N. Montezuma St., Prescott. Find out more at PrescottChalkArt.Com.]
What’s new and different about this year’s Chalk It Up! event?
Well it’s the ninth year, overall, and this is the third year that it’s benefiting the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation. It’s a free, family-friendly, and community-centered outdoor chalk art event. This year we have 12 guest artists and two featured artists. Something that’s new and different this year is Chalk the World. They’re a group that’s taken this truck, sanded off the sides, and basically turned it into a chalk board. They’re coming out the event to help promote it on Friday and will actually be at the event on Saturday. Chalking the car should be a little easier for people who don’t have the ability to get down on the ground or on their knees. They’ll be able to chalk right on it. More accessibility is always a good thing. They have a video on YouTube and a story of their own that’s worth checking out.
Tell us a little bit about the guest artists.
Many are returning, but there are also some new guest artists from out of state who’ve never been here before. Tim Ritter, who’s from Orlando, Fla., heard about it from Cass Womack, who’s also from Florida. He applied and his art is really incredible. Cass is also coming back, and we have two more out-of-state artists from California who’re coming back. The event is getting a good reputation in the chalk art community across the country, which is great. One of the things they mention is that it’s great to be on the ground with the kids right there creating right next to them. You don’t always get that interaction at events like this. It’s really important for us to make sure the kids are excited and inspired by this.
Why have this event in the first place?
It’s important to showcase Prescott and its cultural image and resources. Prescott is, rightfully, seen as a retirement town. And we do have a lot of retired people here who attend the event. But it’s meant to highlight the artists who’re here in the Quad Cities and the families who are thriving here. It’s a cultural event that caters to the different communities here as well as people of all ages from the rest of the state and even outside of Arizona.
How does that fit the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation?
This year, more so than maybe the past two years, we’re trying to enhance community awareness of mental wellbeing. There are informational tables with resources for people who’re interested in mental health that can direct them to community avenues for getting treatment and support, from short-term to long-term care, for people of all ages, as well as resources for people who don’t have insurance. It’s also a way to raise money and awareness of the real mental health challenges in the community.
But how does art fit with mental health?
Well, art’s been shown to be very therapeutic for people struggling with mental illness. There are multiple studies about different aspects of this. And, in general, art is a meaningful expression of emotion for everyone, including those struggling to express themselves, and can be a preventative measure. There’ve been studies about the arts, themselves, but there seems to be something special about drawing or painting, about that kind of creative expression, that’s vital for all of us. … Without going into stats, we know that art is highly therapeutic and is something we use in treatment all of the time with clients. We even have trips to pottery studios and art galleries for some of our children clients. Art therapy is also used in recovery, especially for people who’ve attempted suicide. Art is a healing thing, in general, really.
What tips do you have for people attending the event?
You should bring water. And sun screen. And hats. There’s a lot of sun in that parking lot, so all three of those are important. If you’d like, you can come with an idea of what you’d like to chalk. You don’t need to bring art supplies; we have those here and everyone who registers gets a 12-pack of chalk. If you want more colors, there are more available for a donation. We’ve also got t-shirts and stickers for donations. Oh, and you should expect to be wowed by live entertainment. We’re got some really cool things lined up from local dance groups, musicians, jugglers, singers, performers, and face painters. … That pretty much covers the main things, but I’d like to put a little plug out there for AmeriCorps. The Arizona Serve program has AmeriCorps state and Vista volunteers all throughout Prescott and Prescott Valley, and it’s kind of cool to see this event planned by West Yavapai Guidance Clinic Foundation with the help of AmeriCorps members. Oh, and have a good time, of course.
Chalk It Up! is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday & Saturday, April 22 & 23, in the parking lot of National Bank of Arizona, 201 N. Montezuma St., Prescott. Find out more at PrescottChalkArt.Com.
James Dungeon is a figment of his own imagination. And he likes cats. Contact him at JamesDungeonCats@Gmail.Com.