Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Marietta - Chalktoberfest 2023

This year the chalk festival was held on Saturday October 14 and Sunday October 15 in Marietta, Georgia. I had planned to leave Nashville for Georgia on that Sunday but when I found out about the festival I left on Saturday. The Craft Beer Fest part of the festival was only on Saturday. With the purchase of a ticket one could have unlimited beer samples from dozens of local and national brands. I don't drink beer often, maybe once or twice a year, so I did not miss attending this. I missed the chalk festival in 2022 as I was travelling out of the country at the time. The chalk festival has grown a lot, maybe too much for my liking. It has become quite commercialized, with more arts and crafts vendors, more food and beverage trucks, with long lines.
I read that, because the weather was cloudy and cool, the crowds were not as large as last year, so I am pleased I did not go last year as already this year it took a while to take pictures as you had to queue to see them. This chalk festival started in 2013 as a fundraiser for the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art with just a few artists. When my late husband and I went to the 2014 festival the 40 professional chalk artists then were from eight US states. Now this year there were 83 chalk professionals from all over the US, many from Mexico as well as some from Japan, Italy, Turkey, Brazil, Colombia, France and Ukraine. They still compete around the Marietta Square, which has not grown any, so it gets crowded. There used to be around 10,000 visitors to the two-day event, but now the number reaches 100,000. There are also now 400 volunteers working in shifts. You can look at earlier posts of the chalk festival by clicking on the side of my blog. The aerial photo of the Square, below, was taken a couple of years ago, when less crowded.
Glover Park is in the center of the Square, with a fountain, benches, children play area and a couple of kiosks. Local bands were playing on the kiosk stage. The park was decorated for Halloween.
There was also a community chalk competition with categories for schools, children, teens and adults. Below are entries from children and teens.
Nowadays with cell phones, most people were taking "selfies" in front of the chalk arts. But it still was worth waiting to look at all these chalk paintings.
It seems that this year there was more 3D or anamorphic chalk art. An anamorphic image is a 3D illusion. It is an image that has been stretched out on the ground so that the 3D effect is only visible from a specific spot. If you walk around the piece, it starts to distort. Be sure to click on collage to enlarge.
I stopped and chatted for a while with Joel Yau, a skilled artist from San Rafael, California. He has been coming to Marietta for years and I took photos of his art each time. This time his subject was Portrait of a Young Man by Annibale Garracci (Italian, 1560-1609.) Joel told me where to find the chalk artist from France, on the other side of the Square.
While walking there I took some photos of the numerous dogs at the event. I tried to take the photo of a friendly white dog, but he kept looking the other way. Then he suddenly turned around and came so close to my Canon on my chest that I could only take his nose with my little Sony. It was easier to take a photo of some stuffed dogs, not moving.
Chalk portrait of dogs, and one cat, on the pavement were not moving, either.
I passed by more lovely chalk art. The name of the sponsor is below the chalk art, as well as a little sign with the name of the artist and a small box for tips.
I reached the spot where Dogan Sitki, a Turkish chalk artist, had created a 3D portrait of Spanish painter Salvador Dali. Sitki is a talented artist who after obtaining a master's degree in industrial design and working as an academic assistant for two years decided that his passion was street art. He has received awards from national and international competitions. I found a couple more of his work online.
Some of the chalk art was on boards rather than on the asphalt.
There were so many more - and I did not take pictures of all of them, but I tried!
The chalk used is much thicker than regular blackboard chalk. The sticks are rougher so they won't constantly break on the tough tarmac of the road.
As usual, there were many colorful and stunning works on the ground. It must be quite tiring to keep drawing, bent over the pavement all day. As I was walking, some of the designs seem to leap off, especially the 3D designs. I have looked in awe at pictures of Julian Beever's anamorphic drawings, or trompe-l'oeil. He is a British sidewalk chalk artist born in 1959 who has been creating his designs on the rough pavement since the 1990s. He is known all over the world for his chalk drawings. Here are some examples of his work, courtesy Julian Beever, net.
As I was slowing walking around the Square I finally reached the surface where Jean-Marc Navello, from France, had drawn his chalk art. By then the crowds were diminishing and I was able to speak to him. He certainly looked up when he heard me speak in French. He said I was the first French person he had seen during the two-day event. He asked me if I was there on vacation and was surprised when I told him I had lived in Cobb County for decades. Jean-Marc came from Toulon, in the South of France. He is a graphic designer and illustrator who started his street painting when he saw a chalk festival in France in 2010. Since then he has not let go of his chalk set. His work that day was a 3D piece inspired by modern art.
Jean-Marc told me there are two types of street painters on the ground - first, those who reproduce paintings by great masters or some designs and, second, those who practice free art, which is what he does, mostly in 3D. He said: "It's pure creation. I first create my image on a computer, print it and use it as a model for the reproduction on the floor." Jean-Marc is a multi-award winner, from France, Italy and Great Britain. I asked him if he had entered many street competitions in the US and he replied that is is not easy, as he needs a sponsor to help with costs, and so far he has only been to Marietta, Georgia. He added that it is an ephemeral art form and thus difficult to find sponsors. Below is more of his work.
Chalk street painting is certainly ephemeral - here this weekend and gone within days. But what is not ephemeral? Wealth is made and lost, good health can disappear, friends can drift apart, colors fade, borders shift, and memories are forgotten. Permanence is an illusion. So, let celebrate this ephemeral art and enjoy it while it lasts.
Qual è la vita ma l'ombra di un sogno fugace? - Umberto Eco, Italian, 1936-2016 (Qu'est-ce que la vie sinon l'ombre d'un rêve éphémère? - What is life but the shadow of a fleeting dream?)

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Atlanta Quilt Festival part 2, and Mr. Jimmy's 99th

Before I resume my post on the Atlanta Quilt Festival, I'd like to celebrate former President Jimmy Carter 99th birthday today. James Earl Carter, Jr. was born in Plains, Georgia, on October 1st, 1924, and this is where he still lives now. Plains is a small town of about 776 inhabitants, 2 1/2 hours south of Atlanta, and found among pine trees, peanut farms, and magnolias. The whole town is celebrating the 99th birthday of their beloved Mr. Jimmy, as they call him. Below, the National Park Rangers holding a birthday sign, courtesy CNN.
The Carter Center in Atlanta created a mosaic from the 15,000+ birthday greetings that have been received, so far, for Jimmy Carter. These came from celebrities, politicians, regular folks, from every state in the USA, from Europe, Australia, Africa and more.
In the last several years, Pres. Carter overcame a brain tumor, a broken hip and several falls. He entered hospice care last February. We thought the end was near but here we are celebrating his 99th birthday today. President Biden had a large happy birthday sign placed on the lawn of the White House. (Courtesy Atlanta Journal Constitution.) (Click on collage to enlarge.)
In my last post on the Atlanta Quilt Festival, part 1, I explained a bit about U.S. Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020,) a Georgia Representative, his life and achievements. There is so much more to tell about him as he accomplished a great deal. He had a fascinating life. He started in humble beginnings in cotton fields of the segregated American South. His parents' house had no plumbing or electricity. He ended as one of the finest Americans who ever lived. His life had not been easy, but he persevered. It was a joy to see him celebrated in colorful happy quilts. In my last post I showed quilts in the adjacent building to the Atlanta Southwest Art Center. In this post I'll show those exhibited in the main building, and there were many. Below is a quilt in honor of John Lewish' mother, Willa Mae Lewis.
In 2011, President Obama awarded Lewis the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This was in gratitude for his more than 50 years on the frontline of the civil rights movement.
John Lewis wrote several books. I have some of them including his memoirs called "Walk with the Wind." I have not finished reading it yet, it's about 500 pages long. At the start of Covid I bought a mask showing part of one of his quotations "Good Trouble."
. The main building was filled with many other colorful quilts of various designs, floral, geometric and traditional. It was a feast for the eye and I took many photos, too many to show here or my post would be 6 pages long or more. I'll show some below while I'd like to address John's optimism and joy of life.
With all the horrible violence, hatred and injustice Lewis encountered you would think that he might have turned bitter or looking for some revenge, but on the contrary, he was always kind, generous and happy. He worked well in the Congress on both sides of the aisle, the Republicans and the Democrats. They all had the highest esteem for him and called him "the conscience of Congress."
My mother was also very optimistic all her life. I rarely heard her complain. She had been with my father when they had their head-on collision with a drunk driver. Both her knees were completely smashed and she could not walk. Then she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and became partly paralyzed. Every time I called her on the phone, she always said she was feeling great and happy (even though all alone and unable to get out of the house for years.) But there are so many people who enjoy complaining. I remember as a child in France, we had a neighbor who was never happy. His wife had died several years earlier of lung cancer, even though she never smoked - but he did. He felt that cancer was her fault and it was not fair that now he had to take care of her little dog. We would see him in the street walking the dog; my mum would say "How are you, Mr. Vardin?" "Terrible, I could not sleep all night... must have been the food I bought at the grocery..." another time would be "I tried to weed my garden, it was muddy and I brought mud all over the house and there is no one to clean it ..." another time "I have an infected toe and now have to walk that stupid dog..." He had a sister close by but he said he had not spoken to her in years. He claimed she was nasty and it was her fault that they did not speak. Even looking at a lovely quilt, I think he would have found some fault in it.
I remember my mum telling me to stay away from people who are negative and constantly talking about their misery or bad luck. She said it could become contagious. I asked her "like a cold?" yes, she had answered. I thought she was kidding. But I found articles saying just that. "Emotions are contagious," wrote the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Studies suggest that other people's moods may be as easy to catch as their germs. You can be infected with someone's happiness - or sadness. It is called emotional contagion (EC.) They found that upbeat emotions such as enthusiasm and joy, as well as negative ones such as sadness, fear and anger, can easily be passed from one person to another, often without either party realizing it. In addition negative emotions are more infectious than good ones. Dr. Elaine Hatfield, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii said "Emotional contagion happens within milliseconds, so quick you can't control it, and so subtly that you're not really aware it's going on." Some people have clinical depression certainly, but that is a mental condition that needs medical care. I'm just talking about the people who see everything black, often depressed, stingy with their money or feelings, are critical of others and are, in a way, asking for your commiseration or for you to recall one of your own problems.
Negative, complaining people would not see the joy of life in the above quilts, what we call in France Joie de Vivre. Instead they tend to be more anxious, and their anxiety prevents them from noticing the little moments of delight that could change their mood. If a family member or a friend is always whining about something, someone, or the state of the world, chances are that you'll soon feel down too. Both President Carter and Representative Lewis were kind, without malice, seeing the good in everyone and very optimistic. "Rejoice in the sky, in the sun, in the grass and trees, in the animals and people," said Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian writer.
As for me, I feel happy and lucky. If I am blue, it is not because I am down in spirit, but like yesterday, it is because I was wearing blue. The day was lovely, not too warm only 85 F (29.4 C,) and the sky was blue. I wore a printed cotton blue top, light blue trousers and blue sneakers. My daughter and family took me to a southern "family" restaurant (I'll post on it next time) in a historical building. The food was delicious, the company was fun and it was a very enjoyable day. Blue reminds me of the sky and the sea rather than grief and bad mood.
John Lewis said "Be hopeful. Be optimistic. Never lose that sense of hope." He also said "Hate is too heavy a burden to bear. If you start hating people, you have to decide who you are going to hate tomorrow, who you are going to hate next week." As Lewis saw it, the answer was: "Just love everybody."
Here is another good quotation: "The Happiness of your life depends on the nature of your thoughts." Marcus Aurelius, (AD121-AD180) Roman Emperor and philosopher.
So keep happy thoughts, find joy in your life. Listen to music and dance in your mind. You may think that this is corny advice, but it has worked for me. When my late husband was toward the end of his Alzheimer's disease and could no longer speak, I'd bring music close to him on my iPad. He would listen and smile, and that made me smile, too, and still feel some happiness.
President Jimmy Carter and Representative John Lewis have had incredible, ethical lives. Georgia can be proud to have had two illustrious men serving the public - Jimmy Carter as Governor of the state, then as 39th President of the United States followed by decades as a worldwide humanitarian. John Robert Lewis was successful as a Georgia Congressman representing Atlanta in the United States House of Representatives for 33 years, until his death. They served their fellow citizens with diplomacy, compassion, honesty and skill. These are qualities to celebrate in politicians.
Before his death, on July 17, 2020 (from pancreatic cancer) John Lewis had penned an essay for the New York Times. This was published on the day of his funeral, on July 30, 2020. It was moving, filled with understanding and hope for the future. It was also a call to stand up for justice, to be motivated by human compassion. He eloquently had written: "Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe." With inspiring words he told that each of us had a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. His last sentence was "So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide."
Both of these men are selfless role models who showed us the way to justice and a better society. Now it is our turn to continue their work - are we capable of the task? (Below quilt by Veronica Mays, called "Madame President.")
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