The Chalk the Block Art Festival decorates downtown El Paso


EL PASO, Texas — For the third consecutive year, the public art festival Chalk the Block, graced downtown El Paso with fun-filled street activities and treated thousands to the sight of sidewalks covered in art this past weekend.

“It is a great way for the city to be exposed to so much art.  We don’t get many events like these, so the people should really take advantage,” said Elva Apodaca. “It really inspires me, and those who aren’t exposed to art to appreciate art and see what else is out there,” she said.

Public enjoys chalk art at Chalk the Block 2010 at Downtown El Paso (Omar Perez/

Public enjoys chalk art at Chalk the Block 2010 at Downtown El Paso (Omar Perez/

The event, free to the public, was organized by the city’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department joined by the El Paso Community Foundation.

Chalk art is basically painting and drawing with chalk as media and sidewalks for canvas.

This year, along with great chalk art displayed along the streets of a six-block area in downtown El Paso, three large scale art pieces were also exhibited. One was the very popular Hand Of Man. “This one is probably my favorite part of this event,” said UTEP student Alberto Guerrero.

“Hand of Man” is a robotic sculpture, created by artist Christian Ristow, which picks up old cars and drops them to the ground as viewers control the sculpted hand through a glove device that accurately reproduces the hand movements. “It was very fun to watch, and to actually do it was even better,” Guerrero added.

The fun art experience also included a Kid’s Zone, a skate park, and live music.

In KIDSZONE, the weekend was filled with kid-friendly activities such as booths games and chalk for children to showcase their own artistic skills. The skate park was located in the Franklin St. area and was open to participants on Saturday.

This year, the event featured New York City based comic punk band, Peelander-Z for live music. They performed to a large crowd Saturday night with locals Mariachi Los Toritos, DJ FresCo, and Radio La Chusma. Art vendors were also set up downtown for those who wanted to buy art. Food stands along Oregon St. were open for business.

Chalk artists and other exhibits began to set up Friday evening to have their exhibitions ready Saturday. “It was great watching them set up, getting their stuff ready, and watching the whole process was great,” Apodaca said.

Over 30 local artists showed their work and they were compensated at the end of the event with prizes. The winner of the $300 Best in Show award this year was local artist Obed Arzaga. Other Awards presented Saturday afternoon included a showcase category and a high school category.

Chalk The Block 2010, El Paso. (Omar Perez/

Chalk The Block 2010, El Paso. (Omar Perez/

The event’s main purpose is to bring the public into a world of art they are usually not exposed to. And according to a local artist, both artists and its audience can gain a lot from it.

“I’m glad a lot of artists are showing up. It’s a great opportunity for them, the entire community, people who are not exposed to art, and art aficionados,” said Anastacio Rivera, a competing artist from El Paso.

Rivera, 26, has been drawing all his life and has been “channeling his inner muse” since he was 18. In boarding school he learned the free flowing technique. With this technique he says, “It is bringing the chaos of the subconscious through the hand on to paper, it is basically a state of being in surrender and letting art just freely flow.”

He incorporated this technique into his chalk drawing exhibited with many others outside the El Paso Museum of Art.  “Little kids get inspired and parents get involved, it’s great,” he said.
Some 20,000 persons attended the festival over the three-day weekend, making attendance higher than the previous years.

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