Monday, November 11, 2019

Marietta Chalktoberfest 2017 and 2019, part 2

This is a continuation of my post of October 30, 2019, "Chalktoberfest 2017 and 2019, part 1" where I showed pictures from the 2017 chalk festival.  The following contains photos from the 2019 chalk festival.  I usually would attend on the Sunday when all the chalk drawings were finished, but rain was expected that day, so I decided to go on Saturday afternoon, October 12, 2019.  First of all it was difficult to find a parking place.  Where parking had been free in earlier years, now it was quite expensive.  When I went to the first chalk fest in Marietta in 2013 there were 20 artists from around the country then and a small crowd of onlookers.  In 2019, 86 international chalk artists took part and the crowd had increased to over 100,000 attendees!

Each artist is sponsored by a business or organization.  The name of the business is inscribed in the street painting as an advertisement for that firm.  A side road has an area reserved for non professional artists, of all ages.  As I started walking around I saw many drawings that were in different stages of completion.  At the end of the day before I left I walked again by several drawings that had been finished.  (Please click on collage to enlarge.)

Two little boys next to me could have been in the drawing we were checking.  This trompe l'oeil drawing won 2nd prize I believe.  The first prize was awarded to the drawing called "The siblings" shown on the bottom right of the collage below.

One of my favorites was the drawing of a dog, sponsored by the Cobb County Humane Society.  It won 3rd prize.  I also liked the drawing of the late David Bowie, English singer-song writer and actor (1947-2016.)  You can see his two colored eyes in the heading photo.

It was difficult to choose a favorite with all the beautiful art from so many artists, coming as far away as Serbia, the Ukraine, the Netherlands, Argentina, Mexico, Italy and 18 states in the United States.  I liked "Svegli nel sogno" / Awake in the dream" a drawing of Vittorio Valiante of Naples, Italy.

I stopped to watch Velko Geurgevich from Belgrade, Serbia.  He was not in a hurry to be finished.  We talked for a while after I told him I had been to Belgrade years ago.  Unfortunately, I never saw his finished work.  He says in his biography: "Nature is my muse.  I am forever devoted to portraying Nature in all its magnificence.  My landscapes are intimate and personal: I see them as pages from my diary.  My work is an attempt to show my respect towards nature, an attempt I am forever refining."  Below is his drawing in progress in Marietta and standing in front of one of his paintings.

I took many photos with my two cameras and my cell phone.  Not only of the chalk art but also of the people walking by, standing on top of the Strand Theatre, dogs and chalk tool boxes.

Below are two more drawings being worked on, and then finished.

In Italy in the 16th century artists paid tribute to religious figures of the Madonna with chalk art in city streets.  They would travel around the country while earning some money from onlookers.  They placed plates beside their artwork and coins were tossed into them.  These early artists were called "Madonnari."  There are different categories of artists - copyists (recreating famous works or photographs and of celebrities,) free artists (creating their own work) and 3-D artists, creating anamorphic or "trompe l'oeil" art, that is to say - intended to give a convincing illusion of reality.

Aren't these animals looking almost real?

One of the reasons so many people are attracted by this art is the fact that it can be observed from beginning to end.  We see how the artists plan and create these large-scale drawings.  How the plain dull asphalt is almost magically coming to life into vibrant colors.

It is truly amazing to see these oversized masterpieces in chalk next to our feet.

There was a steady stream of spectators, some taking selfies, others using cameras.  Most just gazing at the art and walking on.

Just with little sticks of multi-colored chalk a talented artist can create enchanting and intricate paintings.

The festival included vendors, food, drinks and crafts.  Live music was being played non-stop by local bands in the gazebo.  The last band to play was a band I had heard before and liked.  It is called "The Paradocs."  It is a team from the medical staff of the Atlanta Northside Hospital.  The guitar player below on the right in the center picture is a pediatrician, the singer an oncologist doctor, the drummer is a pharmacist, another guitarist is an obstetrician, the ICU staff on bass.  A nurse was dancing next to me (pictured in the white skirt below.)  The rhythms were infectious - the repertoire was from classic rock - it was hard not to sway to the music! (and I was ...)

It had been another magical festival.  This year again many talented artists worked on hand and knees to design these ephemeral creations and bring our streets to life.  An artist was asked if she was sad that all her work would be washed away soon.  She answered that it is the same when you go to the theater to watch a play.  When it is over, you clap and leave; they are just as fleeting.  As French philosopher Frederic Lenoir said:

« Tout passe, tout est éphémère, les sublimes bonheurs comme les grands malheurs. »  
F. Lenoir, born in 1962

(Everything goes away; everything is ephemeral, the sublime happiness as well as the greatest misfortunes.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Marietta Chalktoberfest 2017 and 2019, part 1

My trip to the Western North Carolina Mountains was to be my next post, but something came up.  I realized it was the weekend for the Chalk Festival on the Marietta Square.  If you go to the side of my blog and click on the chalk art festival category you can read on the earlier festivals I have attended in Marietta, GA, since 2013.  I also give more information on this event.  I missed the 2018 fest but was in Georgia for the weekend of the fest in 2017.  I never wrote a post on it though.  I'll start with the 2017 Chalktoberfest.  I had arrived from Nashville on the Saturday night and went to the fest on Sunday October 15, 2017.  From the parking area I walked first by the vintage automobile show.

The Marietta Police gave choices for a ride to those who had a few drinks, and their costs - (click on collage twice to enlarge.)

The chalk paintings had been drawn on the four streets around the Marietta Square.  But some artists had drawn theirs on standing boards as shown in the heading photo and those below.

There were ominous clouds starting to gather over the square and soon enough large drops of rain began falling.  Big rolls of plastic sheeting placed in the center of each street were quickly rolled over the chalk drawings.

But the rain did not last long.  The clouds were pushed away by the sun and we all came back to the streets.  A man with a blower was pressing the water past the plastic sheets.

I was pleased to go back to the street paintings as I had only taken a couple of photos so far.

As usual many people had brought their dogs.  I love dogs but don't have one, so I always stop to look at them.  Of course taking pictures of dogs means that legs and feet of their owners are included in the pictures!

Photos taken from ground level are distorted.  I asked the Marietta City Photographer to use my camera on his ladder and you can tell the difference below.

Even with the distortion these large-scale chalk drawings were dazzling.

I also enjoyed watching the artists creating these masterpieces on the pavement.

Their panoply of colorful chalks tempted my camera as well.

As its name indicates the Chalktoberfest takes place in October when Halloween is coming up as shown by the decorations on the square.

We even had a zombie-looking bride and groom walk by.

But there were more colorful chalk interpretations to see.

and more - (don't forget to click twice on collages to enlarge and see better.)

One of the chalk artists had a little card that she would wave.  It read" "Thank you for giving me a reason to smile today."

Here and there along the way were other signs on kindness.

Kindness matters, indeed.  If humanity would go beyond hatred and fear, maybe world peace could be achieved.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."        -Desmond Tutu, South African theologian and human-right activist, born in 1931.

I'll stop on these good words, and will show the 2019 Chalktoberfest in part 2.

More to come ....

Friday, October 11, 2019

Lake Chatuge in the North Georgia Mountains

Driving to and around the Western North Carolina and North Georgia mountains was a nice break from working in the Georgia house.  I was surprised that it took less than 2 hours to drive from the GA house (greater Atlanta) to Brasstown, North Carolina, where I went to the John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival last week-end.  I took many pictures and will have a post on the event soon.  I stayed in Murphy, NC, an old town established in 1830.  It is the county seat of Cherokee County, located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.  In Cherokee County, NC, apart from the mountains, hills and hollows there are lakes, forests, streams, farm land and 6,000 acres owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Their land is part of the Qualla Boundary and not a reservation.  The Eastern Band of Cherokee own a small casino in Murphy called Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Resort and Casino.  I did not visit it though.

It was a bit overcast and much cooler than in Nashville or Atlanta, but it did not rain.  On Monday I left Murphy, NC, and drove down Highway 64 to the GA Mountains then Highway 69, around Lake Chatuge, to Hiawassee, GA.  These were little mountain roads, quite curvy as you can see from the maps below.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

In 1942 the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) built Lake Chatuge for flood control and power generation for the Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains region.  This lake consists of 3,700 acres on the North Carolina side and 3,500 acres on the Georgia side.  The beauty of this area brings many tourists and sport enthusiasts for boating, hiking trails, fishing, swimming, camping, etc.  I drove slowly to look at the gorgeous scenery rolling by as it was difficult, or even hazardous, to stop to take photos.  Below is a vintage postcard of Lake Chatuge.

Lake Chatuge is nestled between the mountain ranges of Nantahala National Forest on the NC section and embraced by the peaks of the Chattahoochee National Forest on the GA side.  As I drove up and down the small mountain roads I could get glimpses of the lake below and the top of mountains.  Trees were still green, just turning gold.  Peak fall foliage will not begin until the end of October to the second week of November.

I kept zigzagging down the scenic roads toward Hiawassee, Georgia.  Again, I could not stop for photos, so below are some vintage postcards of the area.

Early for lunch with my friend, I stopped in the center of Hiawassee to walk around.  There were flowers everywhere.  I parked near the public library, and went inside to have a look.  I should not have, as they had a sale rack and for 50 cents I bought a novel from Mary Wesley, a British author I enjoy.  The local park was being decorated for Halloween.

To get a closer look at the lake I drove to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, less than a mile away.  I wish I could stay there until next Saturday when the Fall Festival starts and lasts all week long, ending on Saturday October 19, 2019, with the Fiddler's Convention (bluegrass bands, finger style guitar, flat picking guitar, banjo and mandolin.)  During the week well-known entertainers will perform such as The Gatlin Brothers, Ronnie McDowell, Crystal Gayle, The Earls of Leicester and more.  I enjoy listening to bluegrass music.  Below is a sample by Jerry Douglas and The Earls of Leicester.

There was hardly anyone by the lake.  It was quite overcast but still impressive.

I sat on a bench for a while to absorb the surroundings.  Then walking up by a knotted tree trunk I saw a bunch of feathers ahead.  Getting closer it appeared to me that a bird had lost a vigorous fight.

Before leaving I walked to the deck to look at the lake up close.

I have been to Hiawassee several times to visit my friend and have seen it grow from a sleepy mountain town to a tourist destination and a retirement niche of upscale homes with spectacular views.  Originally it was inhabited by Cherokee Indian tribes.  Its name comes from the Cherokee word Ayuhwasi which means "meadow."  My friend is originally from Lausanne, Switzerland, a city I also visited a couple of times.  I guess it was easy settling near Lake Chatuge and the surrounding mountains as it would be a reminder of Lausanne by Lake Leman.  The lake is called Leman on the French side and separates France from Switzerland; it is called Lake Geneva on the Swiss side.

My friend started by building a small house by the lake and along the years it was enlarged several times.  Now it looks like a Mediterranean villa.  The interior looks European, a mixture of Swiss, French and German styles (not the white only decor that American decorators think is the French style...) He added a swimming pool not long ago.

But it was getting late and I had to go and still ascend and descend the curvy mountains roads to my next stop.

I had enjoyed our visit, talking about fun times in the early 1970s and subsequent years.  Having old friends is such a joy.  We talk about our youth, our earlier lives; a particular moment ... Old friends are like a testimony of a time that we may regret but that still subsists a little, thanks to them.  We may find it easy with old friends to mourn an epoch that is no more, but then we can go on and be grateful for our present lives and to still know each other.  Don't you feel that way about old friends?

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