Friday, August 3, 2012

We Interrupt this Post -- To Boast!

We've been enjoying the sights of Paris for rather a long while! In fact, I think I had more days of posts on Paris than we actually were there.But before we head off to the Netherlands and London, I had to take a break to talk about one of my favorite artists!
If you've read The Marmelade Gypsy long, you will know that Rick has two great sons and one of them, Greg, studied art and is making his way in the world as an artist.
Not long ago, he was invited to do a presentation at the Detroit Institute of Arts on his specialty, chalk. The day would include an interactive temporary installation on the walk of one of the DIA's courtyards.
So, on a bright sunny morning in June, we gathered at the DIA, under an Alexander Calder statue to be active participants.
It was a time for friends to convene and celebrate Greg!
Greg had stenciled the word "BLAM" in a long, repetitive row down the sidewalk and painted around it in white. He used very ancient and traditional materials to do this, which was part of his "thing."
BLAM signified lots of things, but in Detroit, one of the associations is gunfire. He wanted to turn the word on its head and bring out the meaning of amazement.
There was lots of last minute prep.
Rick helped him get the whitewash down on the sidewalk.
Then, everyone was to chalk around the outside of the design on the walk itself.
I have to admit, there were a lot of smiles as everyone got into the act!
It was fun to be a kid again -- to draw with materials that we knew were temporary, that could smear, where you couldn't be precise. You just created your own world with color.
I, of course, remembered my Gypsy boy.
There were a variety of wonderful designs. You might recognize Rick's bike, Kate's parrot, and lots of wonderful color mixes.
After some time doing this, we went inside, where Greg gave his talk about using chalk as a medium, its history, and the urban art of creating art on sidewalks and buildings. He described his technique and showed one of his larger commissioned pieces, a chalkboard to hang over a bar and across from a mirror.
Of course there were plenty of photo ops as our good friends Kate (and Mike), Judy (and Dick) and Jenna had to get a group photo in front of one of Greg's large chalk art commissions.
Then he asked us to go outside and draw over his painted work -- to make our "BLAM" of art ourselves.
While there were a number of friends and family, we were especially excited that lots of strangers were taking part as well.
I especially loved seeing the little kids with work!
And when a scout troop that had been touring the museum came out, they got a quick lesson in chalking from Greg and set off to create their own work.
Families with children of all ages took part. It was joyful in every way.

A lot of people left the DIA with smiles on their faces (and chalk on their pants) knowing that we were all a part of creating something artistic -- even if it might disappear with the next big rain.
And speaking for Rick and myself and for Greg's mom, I think, we were all really proud of our own personal family artist!
Because, anyone who can do this with chalk has more patience than we do!
And I think we all agreed, it was a BLAM good day!
And my recommendation to you? Get your inner BLAM out, pick up some sidewalk chalk and enjoy! It's tons of fun! 
A note on the photos with this post: Some are mine; most of them come courtesy of Michael Maurer Smith, Judy Winter and Kate McNenly, all of whom brought cameras and captured things far better than I ever could! Thanks, all!


Jeanie said...

What a cool thing to do. Greg has an amazing and unique talent. I loved you homage to Gypsy.

anno said...

So cool! You & Rick must be so proud -- it looks like everyone had a wonderful time!

beth said...

boast away....that's so cool !!
i love it and i love chalky butts :)

The Old Parsonage said...

Wow - how cool is that? Love seeing the end photo of his chalk piece - gorgeous.

Enjoy your weekend!

Barb said...

Good for Greg! Fabulous idea - my inner child was happy just thinking about the experience. A lesson in creativity and enjoying the moment.

Anonymous said...

Greg's work is really fantastic! It sounds like he led a pretty wonderful experience for those fortunate to have been at the DIA that day. What a terrific opportunity for him AND for those who took part. It would have been fun to be there (although I'd probably still be stuck on the sidewalk, trying to figure out how to get back on two feet!!).

Pat K.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

OMG, Greg is so talented! He does have an amazing amount of patience to create works of art like he does. What a cool experience for him - and for you guys! I love that people got to 'participate' in the making of art! Too fun!

I get to play with chalk from time to time thanks to my nephews! It is so fun to play with since you know it's temporary and can be easily washed away!

Linda Jo said...

What fun! And how exciting for Greg!

Marilyn Miller said...

The end result was Blamlicious! You all looked like you were having total fun and how nice for strangers to come along and get involved too.

bibliolathas said...

Oh that looks like such good fun! I'd love to try it.

Jenny Woolf said...

That looks like so much fun. It's good to get together with other people and create stuff, and how nice to have that as a job!! Well done to him for giving so much people so much fun - and perhaps something to think about, too.

Jenny Woolf said...

That looks like so much fun. It's good to get together with other people and create stuff, and how nice to have that as a job!! Well done to him for giving so much people so much fun - and perhaps something to think about, too.

Joanne Huffman said...

This looks like so much fun. I can see why you're proud. Greg is an amazing artist.

~*~Patty S said...

Fabulous and Fun
thanks for this great BLAM of a post and congrats to Greg!

Jennifer Richardson said...

that is just SOOOO cool!!!!
I love it...makes me want to go
and dig up the sidewalk chalk
from my kid's younger days
and have a happy go
in the driveway:)
congrats on this budding artist
of yours!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What a lovely experience -- everyone being creative together! Greg is so gifted, so talented! And I loved your chalk drawing of the unforgettable, immortal-in-our-hearts Gypsy!

Annie Jeffries said...

What a fun time. Lively. Loving. Joyful. I've often wondered if chalk artist do permanent work. The story answered my question when you wrote of his commission.

joyce said...

What a great family-oriented day, the kind of thing I would've taken my kids to when they were young. Unfortunately, chalk dust and the feeling of drawing with chalk, is one of those sensations that gives me the weebie jeebies, along with the feel of velour and the sound of a broom sweeping over concrete. Oh, and moths. I know, wierd. I got the shivers just looking at these photos!

Vagabonde said...

I really enjoyed going back through your posts and reading your adventures in Paris. I saw that there was a flea market at metro Republique from your photo- I did not know about it and will try to go there next time. You know now that I don’t go to Paris twice a year to see my mom I don’t know what is going on in Paris anymore – she used to keep me abreast of everything.
I have a vintage card from maybe 1901 or so showing chalk art on sidewalks – I wonder when it started. Some of the art is so beautiful that it is a pity that it is so quickly gone. Looks like you had a great time.

Icy BC said...

This looks so much fun, and he is one very talented artist. You have a right boast, and be proud L:-)

Tracy said...

WOW... LOVE what Greg is doing! Such great fun... I wish I could have been there. Save me a chunky chalk! Everyone just looks so happy... Art will do that. ;o) Thank you for this special sharing, Jeanie ((HUGS))

Friko said...

Well boasted and well-worth the boast!

What a great fun event, I'd love to be a child again and draw on the pavement (sidewalk).

Arti said...

what a wonderful community event and your own family enrichment project! Greg is inspiring as an artist and communicator. Chalk is so accessible as a medium of art, no wonder all the kids are attracted to it. Thanks so much Jeanie for sharing with us. Love to see you all enjoying and that great smile of yours in every photo, as always! :)

Introverted Art said...

Jeanie, this is so cool and beautiful to see. And to think s home owner's association wanted to prevent little kids from using chalk on their driveway... You see, an artist can be born from the most innocent activities. Amazing indeed!

Sandy K. said...

How spectacular! You all look like you're having a fabulous time. Congrats! And another fabulous trip? How long is this adventure?:)

Toriz said...

That's awesome! :)

I only stopped drawing with chalk when I couldn't see to any more. Our nephew and niece (at the time 4 and 9) loved the fact that even after I was married I still happily played with them and spent ages out in the street drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. OK, so I'm just a big kid, but I don't care!

When are you visiting London? Think you can find the time to make a trip a little over an hour further South? There'll be plenty you can see around here since I live near Hastings...

shoreacres said...

Oh, what a wonderful day! And how absolutely right you are to boast - not in that obnoxious way we all know, but in a way filled with pride and enjoyment!

We loved chalk on sidewalk when I was a kid. It was such fun. Those sticks are much bigger than anything we had, though. We used ours for hopscotch squares, and little line drawings mostly. We never could have conceived of anything like this.

It makes me so sad that cities and homeowners associations are arresting and charging people for chalk drawing on sidewalks and such. One mother is doing 50 hours of community service - in Virginia - for allowing her four-year-old to draw on rocks (ok, maybe not so good in parks) but some kids who've drawn on sidewalks have landed in court, too. There's an article here.

I won't even drag out my soapbox, though. I'll just say, "Viva, Chalk" and go look at your photos again!

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