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Chalk it up to an artist...

Festival brings color to the streets of downtown Newhall

Posted: September 28, 2008 8:45 p.m.
Updated: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

An artist works on an untitled piece at the Santa Clarita Street Art Festival held in downtown Newhall on Saturday and Sunday.


The stretch of Main Street from Lyons Avenue to Fifth Street transformed into a black asphalt canvas over the weekend as hundreds of artists and art lovers gathered in downtown Newhall to create and celebrate art of all types.

Up to 10,000 took part in the Street Art Festival, a number that is in line with the previous four years, according to Jenni Shadle, arts and event coordinator for the city.

The event, sponsored by the city of Santa Clarita, serves as a way for the city to showcase the downtown Newhall community and businesses while reaching out to the local art community, she said.
Over the years, the city has strived to convert downtown Newhall, named Old Town Newhall, into an arts and entertainment district.

Along with watching the artists use pastels, a chalk-like material, to paint masterpieces on the street, visitors were able to channel the artist within through various activities.

In one area, attendees splashed paint onto a series of canvases to mimic Jackson Pollack's abstract painting style. Just a block away, children assisted professional street painter Mark Wagner as he turned a 50 feet by 50 feet square, nicknamed the "Ginormous Art Square," into a work of art.
The newest addition to the Street Art Festival, currently in its fourth year, was the "Pop Art Block," which highlighted a variety of different art media, ranging from graphic design to metal work.

At the block, Dave Mickey and Dave Petersen, 2008 graduates of CalArts, challenged attendees with the "Mice Pace Maze," a project the two and others created at the Valencia arts school.
Mickey said participants wear specially-designed headphones and listen to music, which guides them through a virtual maze to the prized cheese.

When the sounds of a cat fill the headphones, the player has hit a wall or travelled in the wrong direction.

"The people that play it enjoy it," he said.

The festival's centerpiece was the "Community Block," where street artists spent Saturday and Sunday crouched over their blacktop canvases.

Some wore earphones as they worked, while a handful painted barefoot, their hands and feet dirty with the pastel dust.

Together, the artists turned their street canvases into a colorful landscape, portrait or recreation of a masterpiece.

As much effort was put into the artwork, Shadle said the paintings were washed away Sunday, after the festival was over.

On Saturday, as the painters focused on their work, visitors walked by to watch the transformations.
Steve Finkelstein has visited the festival for the past four years.

While the event gives the Saugus resident a way to "just get out of the house," he enjoys looking at the drawings.

"Some are just phenomenal," he said.

Watching the portraits take shape is a standout for Finkelstein.

"To me, that shows real skill if you can match the picture to the chalk drawing," he said.


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