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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / More Than 600 Artists Create Murals in 23rd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival

More Than 600 Artists Create Murals in 23rd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival

by Pasadena Independent
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-Photos by Matt Rose

-Photos by Matt Rose

By Joyce Peng

The portrait of John Lennon. An animated pink pig. The classic book cover of The Catcher in the Rye. A White Walker from Game of Thrones riding a dead horse. And a replica of the Italian painting Il bacio (The Kiss).

These are just some of the 210 murals at the 23rd Annual Pasadena Chalk Festival held at the Paseo Colorado on June 20 and 21. More than 600 artists drew murals on concrete areas in and around the shopping mall. A free event on Father’s Day weekend, this annual festival always attracts many families.

Participating artists voted for outstanding artwork by their peers at the festival’s end. Different award categories included Best of Festival, Most Humorous, Most Inspirational, and Best New Artist, a new award this year. Visitors picked the “Paseo Colorado People’s Choice” award.

Light Bringer Project president Tom Coston said the festival idea originated in 1993 when Nancy Siegmund, an intern for Light Bringer Project, saw chalk painting in Paris. It debuted that same year at Pasadena City Hall, and about 100 artists came.

From then on, it only grew. In 2010, Guinness World Records declared it as the largest street painting festival. An exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of History will highlight the festival’s history for its 25th anniversary.

Artists have grown in their skills and abilities in street painting. According to Coston, artists are usually nervous their first time because they have not done street painting before.

“They become adequate to good to great,” Coston noted. “Now they are stars. It’s amazing to watch their growth.”

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Artist Philip Ferdinand, 34, of Pasadena, said every time he comes back to the festival, he has gotten better and better. This year, he drew Marilyn Monroe. Some of his previous festival murals include Pinocchio and Rosetta from Tinker Bell.

His fifth year at the festival, Ferdinand commented of the festival’s benefits. It gives him the opportunity to meet other artists, be part of the artists’ community, and advertise his work.

“They feel like parts of me,” he noted about his peers. “They are theirselves playing out other parts of myself in their own articulate way, like a grape vine. We’re all fruits of the vine. I like to watch other people’s skill and other people’s technique because they are just another fruit of the vine that I haven’t reached the point of potential or approach that they have yet. They’re so rich on their skill it humbles you.”

Lauren Mora, 21, of La Puente, created a peace sign with the word “Imagine” above it. Her sixth time at the event, Mora explained that the festival reinforces the idea that art is an outlet for fun and self-expression for the artist.

She mentioned the sad fact that the art will be washed away eventually, despite the numerous hours of labor put into it.

“At least hundreds of people get to see it, so it’s not a complete loss,” Mora noted.

Leonides Aguirre, 35, of South Pasadena, was a rookie artist to the festival. On Saturday, Aguirre so far had drawn Darth Vadar holding a Lego book. He planned to later add a table and a Lego box with actual Legos on it, so it looks like Darth Vadar is building a Death Star.

“The experience and also learning how to push myself a little bit further, [and] try different things,” Aguirre commented about lessons he wanted to take from the festival. “[Also to] see other people’s artwork and see techniques that they use.”

Barbara Masters of Pasadena explained that she comes back to the festival every year because she is attracted to the artists’ creativity and the variety of chalk art from year to year.

Vivian Han, 29, of China, said watching the beginning stages of drawing allows her to learn the artists’ processes in completing the picture.

Besides watching artists work, visitors had the chance to auction for small painted canvases created by the participating festival artists. Proceeds from the festival benefited arts and learning programs of the Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena-based nonprofit arts organization who organized the festival.

Some of those programs include Room 13, an international network of student-driven creative art studios with locations in Los Angeles and Pasadena, and LA Futures Academy, a program that engages low-income high school students with professional real world experiences in the advertising, marketing and communication realms.

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