Valerie Pavilonis

The third annual Chalk Art Festival was held at the Shops at Yale this Saturday, bringing together professional and amateur artists alike from all over Connecticut for a friendly artistic competition.

Organizers assigned a square of sidewalk to artists, who then drew an original chalk work within those squares. Broadway Island, the section of Chapel Street in front of the Yale University Art Gallery and the pathways between Morse and Stiles behind the Apple Store were bursting with color during the Festival, as the ordinarily unmarked cobblestones became covered with squares depicting autumnal scenes and Halloween motifs.

Artists competed for designations like most colorful and most New Haven, which were awarded with gift cards to local retail stores and restaurants. A grand prize was also awarded, with the winning team chosen by Vladimir Shpitalnik, an illustrator from the Paier College of Art in Hamden.

“I did not go into this expecting that we would win, we were just having fun,” said Kristen Moreno, who won the grand prize with a friend. “We both love art, we love going to museums, we love experiencing it, we love doing it, even if we might not be the best, we just like being involved.”

The winning work features a woman whose red hair is interwoven with a fox, set against a bright blue background. Other works were Halloween-themed, featuring cats and witches. Zach Chernak, who created an extremely realistic portrait of Frankenstein, walked away from the festival with two awards for his work.

Yale University Properties organized the festival for the Shops at Yale, according to Director of Real Estate Asset Management and Marketing David Delvecchio. Delvecchio said he and his team chose chalk art as the center of the festival due to its popularity in other urban areas and the availability of sidewalk space in New Haven.

“We’re growing it every year,” said Delvecchio. “The first year, we may have closed it at 40-something, last year was more like 60-something, and this year it’s more like 80-something.”

The festival attracted many outside of the New Haven sphere, with people from numerous Connecticut towns flocking to the event. While the grand prize winners hailed from Norwalk and West Hartford, other attendees interviewed came from nearby towns including Woodbury and Branford.

Guests of all ages milled about the event, from art school graduates to elementary school students. Younger children drew behind the Apple Store, creating visions of trees and flowers while also drawing popular characters like Despicable Me minions. Two entrepreneurial elementary school students from Woodbury also attended, not just to draw, but to sell lemonade to the numerous guests.

Local chalk artist Andrea Casey also attended the event to both showcase her skills and to partake in the judging. Her work on Broadway Island featured an array of colorful vegetables, all surrounding the word “Farmacy.” According to Casey, her work was inspired by the New Haven Open Studios’ 2018 theme: wellbeing.

“It’s really exciting to see so many people come out,” Casey said. “It’s just such a wide range of different types of artists. It’s really an honor and privilege to come out and do it.”

The festival featured live music from a local jazz ensemble, face painting and a magician. A guitar soloist from the Yale School of Music also entertained festival attendees at the Chapel Street site.

Delvecchio added that next year’s festival artwork has the potential to spread from in front of the YUAG all the way to York Street, allowing the Shops at Yale to invite even more artists to New Haven.

Valentina Ramirez, a junior at Quinnipiac University, also helped to organize the event. Ramirez, who works as a marketing intern for the Shops at Yale, emphasized the quality of community involvement in events in New Haven.

“It’s great seeing how much more it’s grown to be,” said Ramirez, referencing the Chalk Art Festival. “There’s always something going on every week, so it’s fun to be a part of.”

The Shops at Yale is organizing a “Trick or Treat on Our Streets & Adult Costume Contest,” which will take place on Oct. 27 in the Whitney-Audubon Retail & Arts district.

Valerie Pavilonis | .