ArtWalk Longmont looks different this year because of the coronavirus.
The festival pivoted from a two-night celebration on Main Street to weekly Summer on the Streets events that started in July and will end Sept. 12 with a market featuring live music and short films projected on walls. But before things wrap up on the season, the Longmont Main Street Chalk Festival on Saturday will transform concrete into canvases for 15 local artists.
Each artist will work in a sidewalk square about 20 feet away from other artists. The festival will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will stretch from 320 Main St. to Fifth Avenue.
“The Chalk Fest, we thought would be a perfect way to bring art and the community together while still observing 6 feet of social distance,” said Elaine Waterman, executive director of the Firehouse Art Center. “It’s not only making the community prettier through the artwork, but the community gets to be a part of the art making.”
Although observers won’t be able to draw on the sidewalks as they have in years past, people can watch the artists create their works and vote online for their favorite. Voting will be open for a week after the festival on ArtWalk Longmont’s Facebook and Instagram pages for the People’s Choice award. A jury of Firehouse Exhibition Committee members will choose a second winner. The artists will be judged on criteria such as composition, color usage, skill and content, Waterman said, and the winners will be announced on Sept. 12.
“We want to support everyone’s personal choices of voting online or in person,” Waterman said. “We want to make sure people can come and watch the artists, see people creating and come together but still do it in a safe way and celebrate what connects us.”
The participating artists vary in age, including a handful of high school students. Some of the artists have been active in Longmont for many years, and others are new to the community. This will be Neva Hall’s first Longmont Chalk Festival. She’s not sure what to expect, she said, but will show up Saturday to do her thing.
“I’m looking forward to just being out and talking to the community and listening to what people have to say,” Hall said. “I think having art in the community is so important, and now that kids are back in school, what a great thing for them to do.”
Catherine Leone and Lisa Evans will be participating this year for the third time. Watching the creative process and seeing the artwork evolve as the day goes on is Evans’ favorite part, she said. Leone added that seeing what other artists are making is great inspiration for her, and there are amazing things that can be done with chalk, which is not just for kids.
Tyrell Coover, another participating artist, said “Especially during these strange and difficult times, I think people should take every possible opportunity to connect with other people — safely, of course — and relish in the joy of art. When a stranger resonates with a visual message that comes from my heart, it means we have some kind of connection. What a wonderful feeling.”ArtWalk Longmont and the Longmont Downtown Development Authority are looking for volunteers to help out at the Chalk Fest. Volunteers are needed to check in with artists and vendors, distribute water and snacks to chalk artists and watch booths when artists need breaks. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Creative District Coordinator Mersadi McClure at email@example.com or 303-651-8482.