By Kim Steele Bartlett Express Editor
Local artists will unleash their imaginations in the courtyard and garden at St. Ann Church in Bartlett as part of the Chalk the Walk 2nd Annual Street Painting Festival. Pastel sidewalk drawings will cover the concrete during the event, slated from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 20 at the church, 6529 Stage Road. Chalk the Walk will run along with the Bartlett Block Party, hosted by St. Ann Church. Admission is free. “It really is a neat event,” said Lisa Johnson, chairman of the Bartlett Arts Council. “I think it brings the community together and increases awareness of the arts. When the economy is bad, art goes on the back burner. This lets people see how artists work, as well as the importance of art.” Johnson said she is hoping to draw about 20 artists to the event, which raises money for the Bartlett Arts Council through sponsorship and $1 votes for the drawings. Last year, about 15 artists participated, she said, drawing a stained glass cross, octopus, toucan, painted turtle and a mother and child. The Bartlett Arts Council distributes city funds to five community-based art groups, and raises additional funds to educate and involve the community in the arts. Those five groups are the Bartlett Community Theatre, Bartlett Area Chorus, Bartlett Art Association, Bartlett Community Concert Band and Bartlett Historical Society. Johnson said the artists use pastel crayons to create their work, and when completed, it is sprayed with hair spray so it will last several weeks. Johnson said the council issues a call for artists, and then provides a workshop to explain the rules. At the workshop, each artist comes up with an idea and creates a paper template for the artwork, said Johnson. Later, the template is placed on the concrete and the artist sprinkles baby powder on it to make an outline of the drawing. “We furnish the chalk, and the artists work all day,” said Johnson. “Most of the drawings are pretty good size – in fact, four of them last year were really large. We get a sponsor for every artist, and last year we were able to give everyone a gift for their art contribution.” Timothy Hacker, a Bartlett dentist, was last year’s featured artist at the event. Hacker, who has never used pastels and was participating in his first sidewalk drawing, created a scene from the movie, “Finding Nemo,” complete with characters Nemo, Dory and Bruce the shark. “It was a lot of fun, and all the activity of the artists producing their work was very exciting,” said Hacker. “They displayed a lot of energy and passion. Seeing the completed artwork was great, but I really enjoyed watching the artists as they worked.” Hacker said he plans to participate in the upcoming Chalk the Walk, but hasn’t decided what he will draw yet, although he has several ideas. Hacker said he decided on his theme last year because his 4-year-old grandson loves the movie. Hacker said he enjoyed the first Chalk the Walk, but would like to see it expand and become more open to the public. Hacker said the courtyard was quiet and secluded, which made it easy for the artists to draw, but not enough people knew about it. Johnson agreed, and noted there was such an enthusiastic response from those who visited last year that the event will fill the courtyard and the church’s garden this year. It will include a children’s chalk area, dramatic plays by the Bartlett Community Theatre, music from the Bartlett Community Concert Band and displays by the Bartlett Historical Society. Sponsorships and artists are still being sought. For more information, call 901-237-2599.