Sure, you can walk the walk, but can you chalk the chalk? If you love Easton, art and fun, join us on the Town Square on September 29 from 10 AM-6 PM for the 7th Annual Chalk the Block! Featuring artwork from professional artists, Chalk the Block is an event for people of all ages with live entertainment, amazing works of chalk art and more!
Local artist and Columbus College of Art and Design graduate, Adam Brouillette, has organized the event since 2012 on behalf of Easton. We decided to sit down with Adam to learn how Chalk the Block came to be and give readers a behind-the-scenes look at one of our favorite Easton events.
What is Chalk the Block?
Chalk the Block is a two-day event where artists decorate the Town Square with unique and colorful works of art! On Saturday, the artists take to the streets to create elaborate, original designs, all while listening to the music of a half dozen local musical acts. Then on Sunday, the audience is invited back to see the finished products.
All artists are armed with the same tools and a 10×10’ square to work with, yet the results are widely varied based on skill, aesthetic, and choice of subject matter.
How did Chalk the Block get started?
In the early 2000s, there was a big chalk drawing festival in Columbus that was ran by a company from Florida. After about four years, they cancelled it and left all of the chalk. That’s when the North Market downtown and I decided to create a chalk drawing festival with the leftover pieces, and that was my first experience running something like this. A few years later, Easton contacted me to see if we could create a chalk drawing event here, and that’s how Chalk the Block came about.
In 2012, we hosted the first Chalk the Block event with about 30 artists and six bands playing throughout the day. This year, we still have six performers attending for live entertainment, but we’ve increased the number of artists participating to 44. It’s cool because over the two days, people get to see the process of them working and what each drawing looks like when they’re done.
Tell us about your background in art.
I’m a 2002 Columbus College of Art and Design graduate. I actually graduated in printmaking, but I’ve drawn cartoon characters for a long time, and once I was out of school I started doing a lot more painting and drawing. After the Agora art festival, I realized my cartoon style could kind of mesh well with the chalk drawing medium. I don’t necessarily consider myself a chalk artist, I just make cartoon characters and they happen to be applicable with that.
After college, I ran a few art studios in the Columbus area. Currently, my wife and I own and run Blockfort Gallery and Studios. I was also the president of the Ohio Art League, and the Couchfire Collective, which was a group of about 14 artists who organized different art events downtown. I spend a lot of time not only as a fine artist making work, but also as a community organizer.
Additionally, I own a company called Little Industries where I do design work for nonprofits, small companies and events, using my design skills to help build brands around their products and services. That’s kind of where the Chalk the Block brand, graphics and identity came from.
Who are the Chalk the Block artists?
Well, I try to vary the selection with a mix of new artists, returning artists, chalk artists and artists who have never worked with chalk before. About 30% of the participants are professional chalk artists who do it for a living. There’s even a group that formed after the third or fourth year of Chalk the Block who collaborated on techniques and ideas, and eventually formed the Ohio Chalk Art Guild.
I also like to incorporate a good number of younger artists who may not know what they’re doing or haven’t built a brand/style yet, so they can learn how to talk about their work in front of a crowd. We love to give people who are hungry and excited to learn and grow from Chalk the Block a chance.
Is there room to expand Chalk the Block around Easton?
If I received 100 really qualified applicants, I think we would be able to work with Easton for additional funding/sponsorship to incorporate them into the event. We do provide a stipend and chalk for all of the artists, so around 40 artists per year works well with our current budget. If we ever have chalk left over from the previous year, it allows us to squeeze in a few more artists for the next year.
What do you love most about Chalk the Block?
I’m continually thankful to Easton and all of the people who attend every year. The thing that surprises me the most every year is the audience that comes is so engaged, has so many questions and is so eager to talk to the artists.
I think sometimes when you’re organizing art events, you’re focused on making sure all of the artists have what they need, and you forget that there are real people and engagements that happen about the art. When you’re there witnessing it, you can hear those real conversations about art. When you go to an art gallery or a museum, there’s not that same kind of engagement.
Chalk the Block is a great gateway for a lot of people to engage in artwork without a pretention barrier, which is important. For some people, Chalk the Block is their only experience with art that year and we want to make it an unforgettable one each time they come back. There’s something for everyone here and we’re always willing to share our chalk so attendees can join in on the fun.
Are you ready to vote for your favorite works of art at Chalk the Block? Follow them on Facebook for event updates, images of the artwork and more!