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Concrete comes alive with vivid color at Pastels on the Plaza

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Photographs by Annie Paige and Jeffrey Fox

Rainbow-colored knees and hands rushed about trying to finish a scene of tongue-kissing unicorns dreaming about sunflowers and fairies before this year’s Pastels on the Plaza event ended on Saturday.

It was a hot day and local artists of all ages and skill levels were in the City Plaza chalking it up for five hours for this annual event. By the day’s end, they looked exhausted, their faces focused on finishing their masterpieces and their clothes and skin blemished with purples and pinks, yellows and reds and greens and blues.

Rainbow Skin and Kissing Unicorns
Local artists with chalk-covered skin work on a unique piece for Pastels on the Plaza on Saturday. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

Lisa Almaguer, marketing coordinator for Chico Area Recreation and Park District, said this is an annual event that CARD provides to the community that brings novice and professional artists together.

“It’s really helpful and encouraging for younger artists to see accomplished artists doing things,” she said.

Almaguer said it costs $20 to enter and all supplies are provided. The event is non-profit and fees cover supply costs.

“Chico is one of the top art towns in the country, so it’s important for us to keep doing stuff like this,” she said.

The event offers squares that anyone can purchase before the event or during, provided there are spaces left, along with special 8 foot by 8 foot business-sponsored squares, Almaguer said.

Many pieces were a family effort. The Deshler’s are a mother and two daughters who created for their sponsor, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. George W. Brownridge II.

Samantha Deshler worked on her rendition of Hermey, the shy elf who dreams of becoming a dentist from the Christmas special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Samantha Deshler Chalks Out Hermey the Elf Who Wanted To Be A Dentist.
Samantha Deshler, sponsored by a local dentist, hovers proudly over her mother’s, sister’s and her masterpiece featuring Christmas characters. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

Next to the Deshler’s were mother and son duo Nancy and Jackson Kemper. They worked on a piece for Dragon Graphics, where Jackson Kemper is a graphic designer and screen printer.

Jackson and Nacy Kemper For Dragon Graphics
Jackson Kemper and his mother, Nancy, finish up the final touches of their chalk dragon for Dragon Graphics at Pastels on the Plaza on Saturday. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

“This will stay here ’til it’s gone from rain and wear,” he said. “We keep comparing it to the Buddhist sand drawings in that it’s the art of doing it. I’m fine if this got erased right now.”

Jackson said he has been inspired by his mom throughout the years to create art.

“My mom, sister and brother are all artists,” he said. “My dad, on the other hand, can’t draw a stick figure”.

Pinatas, lollipops and a chocolate river grace another four squares at the plaza in a section sponsored by Powell’s Sweet Shoppe. Chico State sociology lecturer Alex Kokkonakis and fellow artist Bob Howard, who are also musicians in local band The Vesuvians, are the creators of the piece.

“I’ve done this a couple years now,” she said. “CARD tries to match people with businesses. Powell’s needed one and we said ‘sweet, candy, that sounds like fun.'”

Alex Kokkinakis and Bob Howard do the nifty work for Powells Sweet Shoppe
Alex Kokkonakis and Bob Howard work on their Candy Land dream piece for a section sponsored by Powell’s Sweet Shoppe at Pastels on the Plaza on Saturday. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

Just across the grass on another walkway, a few Pleasant Valley High School Art Studio students worked on their piece featuring a Chinese warrior. Senior Michaelina Ward said she actually has very little experience working with pastels.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 12.12.30 AM.png
Art Studio students from Pleasant Valley High School worked on a stunning piece featuring a Chinese warrior Saturday for Pastels on the Plaza. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

Along with the art students from PVHS, there were several young artists who worked on pieces throughout the plaza.

One creation was chalked by aspiring artist Mira Almaguer, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Sherwood Montessori school in Chico and daughter of event coordinator, Lisa Almaguer. She created a chalk drawing with an outstanding resemblance to the “The Hunger Games” iconic mockingjay pin.

“I’m pretty into the book series and I’ve watched the movies,” she said. “So I thought it would be nice to make.”

11 year old Mira Almaguer sits proudly by her art
Eleven-year-old Mira Almaguer spent most of her Saturday morning at Pastels on the Plaza perfecting her mockingjay pin piece, which symbolizes the books she loves. Photo credit: Jeffrey Fox

People who came to look at the art in the plaza gathered around and took her picture as she sat above her piece. Someone asked her if she wanted to be an artist when she grew up.

Mira Almaguer replied with a sweet smile and tone as if the answer was obvious.

“Well, yeah.”

Jeffrey Fox can be reached at [email protected] or @FoxyJeff on Twitter.

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