Atlanta chalk artist Jessi Queen chats with onlookers Saturday at Albany Museum of Art ChalkFest, which featured chalk artists, live music, craft beer and family activities. Queen won Best of Show in the Professional Artists category for her image of Flora, goddess of flowers and spring, in Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli's Primavera. (Photo: Albany Museum of Art/Jim Hendricks)
Atlanta Artist Jessi Queen Wins Best of Show Award at 4th Annual Festival
AMA ChalkFest returned to the streets of downtown Albany on Saturday, and Albany Museum of Art officials said they were “more than pleased” with the community response.
“We had a wonderful turnout for ChalkFest,” AMA Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf, Ph.D., said. “The crowd was steady all day, and we estimate at least 2,500 people came through during the seven hours of the event. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I want to thank our sponsors, partners, vendors, staff and volunteers for coming together to make this marvelous festival, which truly is a communitywide celebration, happen. It takes a great deal of hard work and the financial support of our sponsors, but the result is an event that uplifts everyone.”
Each year, AMA ChalkFest brings professional chalk artists from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, and as far away as Texas, to Albany on a fall Saturday to create ephemeral works of art on the pavement in the 100 block of Pine Avenue, which is closed off to motorists for the day. Those artists create artwork that captures the theme of each festival, and each piece covers at least 50 square feet of pavement. The theme for this year’s ChalkFest was Masterpieces, which connected with the European Splendors: Old Master Paintings from the Kress Collection showing at the AMA through Dec 23.
Community artists of all ages, individually or in teams, participate as well, creating smaller images on the pavement. Young kids who attend are given packs of chalk when they enter the festival grounds, which they use to draw on downtown sidewalks and the pavement.
In addition, ChalkFest features live music during the day, and adults can sample a wide array of craft beers and cocktails from around the Southeast at tasting tents starting at noon. Art and other vendors are on the grounds, as are food trucks. And there are numerous family-friendly art projects, games and things to do at the AMAzing Activities area.
“It was a truly enjoyable day,” said Wulf, who “made a splash” with many festival-goers as the target in the Dunk the Director tank. “It got a little chilly in the dunk tank, but you could not have asked for bluer skies or more pleasant weather all day. We all have been curtailing activities for months because of pandemic spikes, and I think everyone was happy to be able to go out and socialize in a safe, fun environment.”
Each year, one professional artist’s work is judged Best of Show. At Saturday’s ChalkFest, Atlanta artist Jessi Queen won the cash award with her artwork that was inspired by the image of Flora, goddess of flowers and spring, in Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli's Primavera.
Best of Show awards also were given in the Community Artist and School Artists categories.
Donna Fields, whose mother Lata Fields, of Hogansville, Ga., participated in the professional artist group, won in the Community Artist category with her untitled artwork, a fantastical image of eyeballs spouting mushrooms.
In the School Artists category, Radium Springs Elementary School won for their artwork titled We Can Save the World, which included a colorful depiction of the Earth wearing a COVID mask.
“We at the AMA have been gearing up for this event for several months, hoping and praying we can all congregate with our brothers and sisters from the region,” Wulf said. “Things turned beautifully, and the works by these many talented individuals speak to the irrepressible creative spirit that has been merely postponed but certainly not defeated by the pandemic.”
Wulf said he was happy the AMA was able to bring ChalkFest “to life” again after the pandemic forced the museum to make it a virtual event in 2020.
“Our hope is that AMA ChalkFest shall always be an in-person event,” he said. “We are already looking ahead to next year.”
The Albany Museum of Art would like to thank its sponsors and partners for their support of this community festival. “We could not have a festival like ChalkFest without our generous sponsors and partners,” Wulf said. “They should be applauded for their investment in the community and its quality of life.”
Sponsors for the 2021 ChalkFest were Publix, Tri-State Florist, Smile Doctors, Webstaurant Store, Vine Vision, Yancey Rentals, Adams Exterminators, Synovus Bank, Georgia Community Bank, Bridge Import Group, Phoebe, Albany Motorcars, BMW of Albany, the James M. Barnett, Jr. Foundation, F&W Forestry, Bishop Clean Care, Fleming & Riles Insurance, J&J, Albany Internal Medicine, JLA, MetroPower, Thirteenth Colony Distilleries, LRA Constructors, AB&T, Flint Community Bank, Hughey & Neuman, Beverage South, Southern Spine & Health, and Southern Point Staffing.
Partnering with the AMA on ChalkFest were the Flint RiverQuarium and the Artesian Alliance, the Flint River Entertainment Complex, WALB, The Albany Herald, Albany Beverage Company, Pretoria Fields Collective, Southwest Georgia Living, Eddie’s Signs, Relative Media and Marketing, AAA Concrete, Locos Grill & Pub, Bottoms Up!, Downtown Albany, and Newk’s Eatery.