Martin Avenue became a work of art Saturday.
It won’t be for long. The art was created by professional artist Nancy Pochis Bank and her team with a great deal of collaboration from community artists of all ages.
But because it was all made with chalk, it will be gone when the next rain storm moves through, Bank said.
“It’ll last until it rains,” Bank said. “That ephemeralism is what makes it fun.”
Bank and artists Tracee Badway, Grace Brandt and Brittney Leeanne Williams started early Saturday morning sketching out the lines of Georges Seurat’s neo-impressionistic masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” The 1884 painting is in the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.
“It was a challenge and we’re really pleased,” Bank said as the finishing touches were being applied late Saturday afternoon. “This is probably the hardest one we’ve ever tackled.”
Their reproduction of Seurat’s famous painting was still visible on Martin Avenue Monday morning, but with storms in the forecast most of the week, it will be gone soon. But Bank documented it, taking photos about every 25 minutes during the day.
She said that helps preserve the project and also gives the artists an opportunity to stretch. Chalk art requires spending long periods of time in awkward positions, so periodic breaks help them keep going.
Bank and colleagues have done a wide range of chalk art pieces, from corporate logos and promotional slogans to fine art, including works of Picasso, Renoir and Grant Wood.
While surfaces can often present challenges for chalk artists, the biggest challenge Saturday was the unexpected heat. Cool, wet weather yielded to bright sunshine and humidity, with temperatures rising into the 80s.
“Chalk art is always a long day and the team knows that,” she said.
Still, she said they really enjoyed the event.
“It was really a lot of fun. This is such a nice crowd and people were really excited,” she said. “The other artists were amazing. Their work is beautiful. It was a fun day to be part of.”
The Chalk of the Town project was a new addition to the Homewood Art & Garden Fair.
Homewood Events Manager Allisa Opyd said the village plans to invite Bank and her team back next year.
“We hope to keep building on it,” she said.
The initial effort proved to be popular with local artists, too. For a small fee to defray costs of high quality chalk and other materials, artists of all ages were able to add their work to the street scene.
None attempted their own versions of Seurat’s painting, but they created a rich variety of original art that made Martin Avenue sparkle from Hickory Road to Kroner Lane.
Ken Disselkoen of Homewood watched as his granddaughters, Anika and Annelise, worked on their chalk masterpieces.
“She loves to draw,” he said of Anika. “And when she’s not drawing, she’s writing stories.”
Eric Bauer of Flossmoor and his son, Ari, worked on a reproduction of Ari’s Science Bros T-shirt, showing Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, aka Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk.
Nearby, 4-year-old Alice Van Schaik’s drawing was finished while her mother, Homewood artist Erica Van Schaik, was still working on hers, a colorful piece with dominant bright sun, just like the day, but with the addition of a rainbow path leading to the horizon.
Fourth-grader David, working across the street from Bank and her team, employed lessons in perspective that he learned in school, he said. An orange path on his drawing appeared to recede into the distance, much like Van Schaik’s. He also had a proportionally large blue jay added by his cousin, Skylar.
“It’s in the foreground,” he said.
Down the street, Suzanne Bush of Homewood, an art student at the University of Minnesota, created an ocean scene providing a reflection of a long exposure of the North Star, producing a concentric blur of starlight.
Rains over the weekend and into Monday morning had started to erode many of the chalk art works, but the Seurat was still visible, helped by tempera paint base and the layering of chalk applied by the artists.
Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]