Hot Pavement: Chalk Artists Kick Asphalt at Art Along the Rogue
Big, bold graphics celebrating the Grants Pass region’s natural and cultural abundance will color the streets at the 17th annual Art Along the Rogue Street Painting and Music Festival October 4 – 6. This year’s theme, Bounty of the County, will have some of the best national and Oregon-based chalk artists racing to complete their interpretations before Sunday night when traffic resumes across their masterpieces.
The inception for Art Along the Rogue Festival was twofold—to inspire would-be artists and help bring an awareness to the growing music and art scene in Grants Pass.
“One of the most rewarding things is seeing younger participants who’ve now become some of our featured artists,” says Jon Bowen, Executive Director of Experience Grants Pass and event organizer. “It’s an achievement of the goals set by the founders of this event, which was to nurture and strengthen our art community.”
Medford artist, Mera Oliveria, attended her first AATR festival in 2014, getting a feel for street painting. Now, having proven her talent with the medium, she will be a featured artist at this year’s event.
“There is something so beautiful about the brevity of chalk art festivals that speaks about community,” Oliveria shares. “Like a performance art, you have to be there to witness it and experience it with the artist.”
Over 10,000 people attended last year’s festival and Bowen expects more for 2019, saying it’s become more well-known throughout Oregon and neighboring states as a premiere chalk art festival.
“It has a wonderful vibe to it, very festive, and visitors get a chance to walk around and enjoy the beauty of our historic district,” she adds.
Several featured artists are returning, including fine artist, Ever Galvez, who will complete a specially-commissioned interactive 3D mural that will allow visitors to become a part of its multiple scenarios and have pictures taken within it. This will be his fourth attendance.
“Grants Pass is a warm and supportive community of the arts, plus I love nature,” says Galvez. “Each time I visit I can breathe fresh air and forget about L.A. traffic!”
“Chalk girl” Lysa Ashley, is a professional artist and school teacher and no stranger to schedule constraints.
“I’ve learned to pace myself, plan the image and know my limitations over time,” she says. “We have to be done before the promotion and portfolio photos are taken at the end of the last day because, really, that’s the only way the art lives on before it gets washed away.”
Raziah Roushan never tires from answering the two most common questions—what happens if it rains and is she sad it’s only temporary?
“I’m totally fine with both of these conditions,” says the professional artist and art consultant. “I love working big with a medium that is temporary and non-intimidating. What’s really cool about it, since I’m a painter, is I don’t have to be so careful working with chalk; it’s just like giant sketching.”
The festival fires up Friday night October 4th with a special performance by Led Zeppelin tribute band, Livin’ Lovin’ Led. The mega-talented collaboration features multi-instrumentalist, Michael Saint John, L.A. transplant, Craig Mesco, and seasoned musicians, James Fletcher and Elena Kuzmenko. Lead vocalist, Natasha Neece, is excited the band is helping launch the weekend-long event.
“Grants Pass is really up-and-coming, there’s a lot of music there and the festival’s especially great because it’s a big outdoor event; I feel really honored to play there,” Neece says.
“Our music scene is definitely growing and we’re trying to support that,” adds Bowen. “It’s a great opportunity for music artists to come out and showcase their work.”
Bands will perform round the clock all weekend, including popular dance band, Danielle Kelly Soul Project, guitarist Allen Giardinelli, original rock by 221 Fly and funk, rock and reggae from The Elevators and The Don’t Stop.
The event is sponsor-supported and free to the public. Those new to street painting who want to give it a go can choose a 2×2 or 4×4 pavement square for $5 and $20, grab a cup of chalk and sketch away. All proceeds help support the event.
“It’s not only for kids! Adults love drawing just as much and it’s one of the most popular activities we have,” says Bowen. “It’s really a great way for people to participate without making the commitment of having to be there all weekend.”
Local food artisans will offer their specialties and nearby Horny Goat Gastro Pub will set up a beer and wine garden.
Art Along the Rogue Street Painting and Music Festival
October 4 – 6
5th and H Streets, Grants Pass