Tampa Bay Chalk Festival

Inaugural Tampa Bay Chalk Festival
on the Deuces

May 13 from 9 am to 4 pm
Historic Deuces neighborhood
St Pete
Details here

On Saturday, May 13 the sidewalks of 22nd Street South in St. Pete between 7th Avenue South and 9th Avenue South will be transformed into a kaleidoscope of colorful squares as Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project (PDAP) hosts the inaugural Tampa Bay Chalk Festival in the historic Deuces District.

A free community event, the festival invites community members, children accompanied by caregivers, youth, and art enthusiasts to create with chalk and other mediums alongside professional chalk artists, vendors and viewers.

PDAP board member and festival organizer, artist and educator Debbie Yati Garrett, states that the rich artistic history of the Deuces made it the perfect location for the chalk festival.

“This is an opportunity to bring together the community of artists, recreation centers, youth providers and businesses – in addition to showcasing professional artists’ chalk work. And most importantly to give our children a day of art expression using chalk while having fun.”

Rasta Geary Taylor working in chalk – the versatile artist’s motto is “Putting paint where it ain’t”

Garrett had been pondering on an event PDAP could do that would “bring a community of artists together, bring attention to the Deuces corner, include businesses – and create a fun day for children on Mother’s Day weekend.”

An art instructor at Job Corps, Garrett says that she and her students were also thinking about a way to take part in local events with a purpose.

As an artist, she notes that the chalk festival provides a medium for creation, which she says is “a fundamental part of the human existence,” and that she believes the chalk festival provides “a powerful force for binding a community together.”

Garrett sees the Tampa Bay Chalk Festival as a way to increase the cultural activity and tourism on the Deuces. Noting that it’s the kind of event where “a father can bring their children for a free event on Mother’s Day weekend,” she also believes the festival will enhance foot traffic and bring customers to the businesses surrounding the Deuces.

“‘Public art breaks the barriers of the unknown and allows a connection between two strangers,” says Kaitlin Kelly, aka Swirly Painter.

Placing a family friendly art activity for all ages and cultural backgrounds offers another way for visitors to experience the historic area. Garrett hopes it will contribute to a positive atmosphere and help market the Deuces “nationally and internationally.”

A number of local and regional professional artists are taking part in the festival. Garrett reached out to some she knew, and PDAP also announced a call for artists on its social media platforms, and received a healthy amount of responses.

In the end, Garrett selected four artists to feature, including Rasta Geary Taylor, Myiah Pink, Swirly Painter (Kaitlin Kelly), and Anthony Williams.

Rasta Geary Taylor is a well-known and loved visual artist who owns the 1 of 1 Customs – “Hand Painted Everything” Studio in St. Pete whose motto is “Putting paint where it ain’t.”

He says taking part in the festival appeals to him because “I’m down to do just about anything to help and inspire kids to find the artistic talent our Creator put inside them.”

The Ella Fitzgerald mural created by Zulu Painter is one of many vibrant murals in the Deuces neighborhood

Myiah Pink, an artist and educator who recently held the Soul Revival Artfest, is a featured artist at the chalk festival and shares her excitement at taking part. “I love trying new things. Chalk isn’t my first medium – however it is the perfect way to tap into my inner child! I love doing things within the community and I can’t wait to see all the other creative chalk squares during the fest.”

Pink’s multimedia and acrylic work can be viewed on her Instagrams @myiahpink, @happysoulbypink and she can be reached by email at happysoulbypink@gmail.com. Her websites are Myiahpink.com and happysoul.pink.

Featured artist Anthony Williams, whose work was recently exhibited at the Tully-Levine Gallery at the ArtsXchange in St. Pete’s Warehouse Arts District says he chose to be part of the chalk festival because, “The opportunity to come out with the community and the people is irresistible. [As] a creative in all other traditional forms of art – paint, ink, clay or any medium I can actually draw with will suffice.” You can follow Williams on Instagram at instagram.com/aleeshmustaqim.

Swirly Painter, who is located in Sarasota, shares, “Public art breaks the barriers of the unknown and allows a connection between two strangers. It allows humans to just be humans without a role or costume. There’s beauty in that.” You can follow her on Instagram at instagram.com/swirlypainter.

Image courtesy of Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project

Attendees can enjoy delicious offerings available at the businesses located along Deuces corridor º including Lorene’s Fish&Crab House, Heavy’s Restaurant, Rastaman Natural Juices/NightFLOW Restaurant and Urban Drinkery, which will all be available to accommodate hungry visitors that day.

The first annual Tampa Bay Chalk Festival on May 13, has a schedule of events as follows. . .

  • 8 am – Street and Sidewalk Preparation
  • 9 am – Open Introduction
  • 9:15 am to 4:30 pm – EVENT
  • 4:30 pm – Presentation

Those interested in registering to be a chalk artist that day can register here.

The Tampa Bay Chalk Festival is an initiative of Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project Inc., a registered 501c3 organization with a mission to support, encourage and promote Black and Brown arts and artists in Tampa Bay while providing family engagements with a focus on health and wellness.

For more information, you can visit the Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project at pinellasdap.org online, follow on Instagram @pinellasdap, and Facebook at facebook.com/PinellasDAP.

The inaugural Tampa Bay Chalk Festival is sponsored in part by a grant from Creative Pinellas and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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Originally published in The Weekly Challenger


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