With the Square, the mountain and the Big Chicken, what you see is what you get. With the executive director of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, you never know what is coming next.
I got to know Sally Macaulay when I was given the opportunity to put one of my paintings in an exhibit at the museum a few years ago along with a pretty fair country painter by the name of Steve Pendley. That was like inviting Gomer Pyle to hang out with Colin Powell, but she made me feel like Rembrandt. I don’t forget those sorts of things, even when they are undeserved.
Not only is Sally Macaulay a nice person, she is a creative one as well. Witness the Marietta ChalkFest, which will hit the sidewalks of Marietta this coming Friday through Labor Day as a part of the Art in the Park festivities. The times are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free.
About 20 professional chalk artists from around the country will be painting 10- by 10-foot murals from South Park Square to the museum on Atlanta Street. Admission is free.
But what if it rains? Macaulay says that if there is rain, the artists will use a tarp-like material called Visqueen along with towels and tape. As soon as it stops raining, the Visqueen is lifted and they begin to chalk again. The woman thinks of everything.
Last year, the initial ChalkFest with only two artists drew about 3,800 people into the museum, Macaulay estimates, not counting those who watched the artists do their things on Marietta’s sidewalks.
The Marietta ChalkFest is modeled after a similar event in Sarasota, Florida, which brings more than 350,000 people to that city each year and has an economic impact of more than $1.2 million.
“Why not do this for the City of Marietta?” she mused. “The Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art is part of the non-profit organizations that benefit from the hotel/motel tax every year. What better way to help other non-profits on the Square as well as ourselves?” It probably won’t hurt the for-profit eateries, either.
I discerned a serious disconnect between some of the downtown merchants and the Marietta Visitors Bureau during the latter’s clumsy handling of the appointment of a new director, MVB’s current marketing and public relations manager Katie Peterson. Hopefully, events like ChalkFest will provide the opportunity to heal some of the lingering mistrust and poor communication that exists and can get all the players on the same page. This should be a priority for Ms. Peterson.
Macaulay’s vision is to grow the Marietta ChalkFest to more than the 20 artists that are participating this year and to fill every hotel room and restaurants to capacity. Don’t bet against her. The event has made giant strides since last year’s inaugural. Besides, if Sarasota can get 350,000 people there to see their chalk festival, why can’t we do the same in Marietta? Sarasota claims to offer visitors to their city “breathtaking sunsets.” Oh, pooh. We have the Big Chicken which is pretty breathtaking itself. I rest my case.
For the third year, there will be a judged competition for non-professional artists and students with cash prizes totaling $600 awarded for first place through third place winners. In addition, there will be a youth division and those winners will receive gift cards. That competition will take place on Anderson Street next to the museum. Chalk will be provided. The woman thinks of everything
I have graciously decided that I will not be entering the chalk art competition in order to give others a fair chance at glory. It was a difficult decision for me. My hopscotch patterns are to die for.
There is also the fact that I don’t think you can put chalk on the sidewalk without squatting. There is no squatting in oil painting.
Since this is the 150th anniversary of the War of Northern Aggression, several of the chalk artists have indicated that this will be their theme during the three-day festival. Bummer. Our side didn’t fare too well in that conflict. Who wants to be reminded of that fact, even in chalk?
Not to worry. After Labor Day, the chalk art is set to be pressure-washed away. Fortunately, Marietta Square, Kennesaw Mountain and the Big Chicken will remain, as will Sally Macaulay.
Eat your heart out, Sarasota.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.