The South End of Nanaimo has been developing a reputation for street art, with colourful creations showing up in alleys, on buildings, along fences and on garbage cans generously maintained by community members.
Bringing art out into the street is a playful way of engaging people and building a sense of connection.
Last Easter, when our son and granddaughter were visiting, we took to the sidewalk and covered the pavement in large, bright chalk drawings to celebrate the occasion. During the hours that we coloured Easter bunnies, chicks, eggs and flowers, it felt as though the boundary between our yard and the public space of the street had somehow vanished.
We and the people passing by were occupying a unique shared space, along with the creatures emerging on the otherwise unremarkable cement. Everyone smiled as they passed and many stopped to chat, telling stories about doing something similar as children, or complimenting us on the drawings.
A few people asked if it was legal - a question that made us pause until we remembered the temporary nature of our artistic adventure, given the next rain would 'clean the slate'. Since that time, I've been fascinated by both the impermanence of the art and the sense of connection we experienced, reminiscent in a small way of watching Tibetan monks creating sand mandalas.
Sept. 27-28, the South End is hosting its first ever Chalk Walk, providing the opportunity for people of all levels of artistic ability to temporarily liven up the neighbourhood's sidewalks with chalk art. The event will coincide with national cultural days and celebrations held throughout the city.
Information about the Chalk Walk, along with instructions on how to make homemade street chalk, will be available at the South End Community Association's blog: http://nanaimosouthend.ca.
A link will be provided to maps showing destinations on the Chalk Walk Tour.
All locations need to be registered by Sept. 18 in order to be shown on the tour map.
Recognizing that not everyone has access to sidewalk space, people are welcome to share a portion of their sidewalk or request a spot by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
" Paula Beltgens is a member of the South End Community Association.
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