Niagara Gazette

August 16, 2013

Sweet Chalk Festival hopes to draw crowds to Lockport

By Anne Calos
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — The city might look a little like the streets of Renaissance Italy this weekend as chalk artists converge on the city for the Sweet Chalk Festival.

The brainchild of businesswoman Ellen Martin, the festival will bring seven professional artists to Canal Street Saturday and Sunday. In addition, students will be competing for a best in show prize, and there will even be a children’s section for “Little Chalkers” to try their hand at the art form.

Martin said she got the idea for the event after attending the chalk festival in Sarasota, Fla.

“I love the Sarasota Chalk Fest. It’s just amazing and awe-inspiring. So I thought, ‘why not do this in Lockport?’ This isn’t just a results-oriented thing. A lot of it is watching the artist’s progress — just watching the whole thing take shape,” Martin said.

Headlining the event will be Carolyn Schultz of Florida. She has recently been awarded the designation as “Maestro Madonnari” (Master Street Painter) through the Florida Chalk Art Association. Schultz received a Medal of Recognition from the Sarasota Chalk Festival, Best of Show in Port Orange, and first place for Reproduction of a Master at 2009 Disney. She has been the featured artist at a number of chalk festivals.

Martin said that in Lockport, Schultz is planning to recreate the Mona Lisa, something she’s been wanting to do for a while.

In addition to Schultz, six other artists, all of whom have participated in other chalk festivals, will be creating their own masterpieces. They are Tatyana Samodurov, Julia Bottoms, Jessica Adams Tomaino, Joe Mahley, Ron Kosinski and Mike Thompson.

The artists will begin working at 9 a.m. Saturday, and the festival will continue to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Sunday.

It will be a big weekend in Lockport, and Martin hopes to bring in a lot of people who will be attending the weekly Saturday Community Market on Canal Street and the Taste of Lockport on Sunday.

“We’re going to have some chalk art on the streets leading from the Taste of Lockport to the Sweet Chalk Festival. Hopefully, people will get something to eat, come over and look and the art, and go back for more to eat,” Martin said.

The Sweet Chalk Festival is the culmination of Martin’s “Sweet Sweet Summer in Lockport.” Other activities have included Sweet Idea, where people were invited to finish the phrase, “I’m important to Lockport because …” on an 8-by-12-foot chalkboard attached to the outside wall of City Hall; and Sweet Harmony, which placed decorated pianos outside various businesses, so people strolling by can play a tune.

All of the activities are Martin’s way of trying to bring more people into downtown Lockport, as well promote the arts locally.

“We’ve partnered with the Market Street Art Center on this, and it’s been just great,” Martin said.

The artwork will remain until the rain eventually, washes it away, so anyone who can’t get over to Canal Street on the weekend will still be able to view the finished works.

If you go: • WHAT: Sweet Chalk Festival • WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday • WHERE: Canal Street • COST: Free