Columbia Heights Chalk Art Walk

HeightsNEXT was proud to add some chalk art to the paths around Huset Park during the Columbia Heights Chalk Art Walk event October 24-30, 2020. We chose a Dia de los Muertos theme, mostly because of the upcoming holiday, and because it would use a wide range of chalk colors.

Dozens of artists signed up for the event. Each artist was assigned a 10′ x 10′ length of path around the pond, and a bag of basic chalk. Many chalk artists use a small, printed art piece as reference for the larger reproduction. A grid can be helpful for maintaining an accurate scale.

Early chalk art outlines
Outlines of the basic design.
Chalk art beginning to take shape.
Tools included a reference image, a tape measure, and a piece of foam board for kneeling on.

With patches of snow on the ground and a high temperature of just 30F (-1C), artists had to dress in bulky layers. Keeping hands warm was a trade-off over fine control of the chalk. Warming up in Murzyn Hall was a frequent necessity.

Another issue was the wind. Even a light breeze was enough to send piles of autumn leaves drifting into the work area. Each leaf had to be carefully picked up by hand, because using a broom would smudge the chalk. Chalk is very fragile. Even after a strong wind, chalk art can appear muted or dull.

Additional characters in the chalk art begin to appear.
Because it is difficult to touch later, chalk artwork starts from the top and works downward.
Chalk art about half way complete
Don’t let the sunshine fool you. It was COLD.

During breaks, and overnight, we covered the chalk with a tarp and some simple barricades to protect it from moisture and to prevent people from walking on it.

The piece took 14 hours over 2 days to complete. Many people stopped by to take pictures of the art in progress. This was just one of many pieces found around the pond in Huset park, and the designs lasted for over a week as the weather cooperated. Thanks to the Columbia Heights Recreation department for a fun event!

Artist Frost Simula with a Dia de los Muertos chalk art piece he created for the Columbia Heights Chalk Art Walk in Huset Park in October 2020.
Frost Simula (artist) poses with his finished Dia de los Muertos chalk art.