The work of more than 200 artists from around the world will be on display at the 7th Annual Chalk the Block, a free public arts festival hosted by GECU and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD) in partnership with the El Paso Community Foundation. This year’s event takes place Oct. 10-12
“Chalk the Block is host to national and international artists, but it did not start that way,” said Christopher Espinoza, production coordinator for MCAD. “The event has gone a long way since its inception.”
The three-day event, hosted in the Downtown Arts District along Franklin and Oregon streets and in Cleveland Square Park, will include live chalk art competitions, an interactive public chalk area, temporary art installations, art vendors, food, live music and performance art.
Art to be featured this year includes the “Texas Size Print,” a two-day large-scale on site printing project in which artists from El Paso and San Antonio will cut 2-by-4-foot vertical wood plates that will interconnect in multiple ways to create more than 40 individual 4-by-8-foot relief prints on paper and bed sheets.
“The resulting prints on textile will be on display and then sewn together for a larger public landscape sculpture installation to be announced at a later date,” Espinoza said.
Pop-up galleries, curated exhibitions hosted in vacant storefronts and other locations downtown, will also be part of the festivities.
One such pop-up gallery, “El Pueblo Viejo vs. El Chuco — Fine Art Print Exhibition,” is a veritable showdown of artists from across the Southwest. The exhibit, born from a print exchange organized in Tucson, Arizona, and a print exchange organized in El Paso, will display 8-by-10-inch prints.
For the YayBig Print Exchange in Tucson, artists were asked to give 15 pieces of their work in exchange for 13 prints from other artists. Two prints were kept for the Chalk the Block exhibit. For the Horned Toad Press Print Exchange in El Paso, artists were asked to give eight pieces of their work in exchange for seven prints from other artists. In each exchange, one print was kept for display at Chalk the Block.
“We are very proud of the quality of both collections, and should exhibit up to 60 prints total — 32 from YayBig and 28 from Horned Toad,” said Tucson artist and Albuquerque native Karl Whitaker, who will be bring the Arizonian art to the Chalk the Block. “I think it’s very exciting to see these print initiatives coming from the Southwest, and hope that this sparks more printmaking from our region, so that we can share our visions with the rest of the world.”
El Paso printmaker Ramon Cardenas will curate the pop-up gallery, “Border Lines,” an exhibit of work from artists based in Boston, New York, San Diego, Juarez and El Paso.
“All of the out-of-town artists have ties to El Paso,” Cardenas said. “So the show, in general, it reflects a lot of current situations in the media — displacement, immigration issues, cultural stereotypes — kind of in hopes to dissolve all borders.”
All artists are paid for their work, Espinoza said.
“MCAD believes that all artists should be compensated for their work,” he said. “All artist must apply during the open application process. Panels made up of stakeholders and community partners help rate the artists and artists are then placed in the layout in their respective categories.”
Thirty-eight thousand people are expected to come out for Chalk the Block this weekend, he said, which should provide a financial boost to the community, in addition to expanding the Sun City’s cultural horizons.
“Last year the event pumped $1,056,389 into the economy, of which $488,026 went to bar and restaurant revenue, based on multipliers by the Americans for the Arts Economy Impact Study for El Paso,” Espinoza said.
Chalk the Block
Friday Oct. 10, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday Oct. 11, 10 a.m .– 10 p.m.
Sunday Oct. 12, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Free and open to the public
Schedule of events and maps available