Artists hit the street for Denver Chalk Art Festival

Storm troopers, giant flowers and abstract murals of all shapes and sizes have flooded the streets in downtown Denver and drawn out crowds by the thousands as the 14th annual Denver Chalk Art Festival kicked off this past weekend.

The free outdoor festival, which features 250 unique artists, was an opportunity for Denver residents to enjoy the summer-like weekend temperatures, shop local vendors and watch in awe as artists turned a basic block of downtown into a walking mosaic.

Mark Hollenbeck, a high school art teacher and one of this year's featured chalk artists, said watching people enjoy his work is what makes the experience, and grueling hours in the sun, worth the while.

"Most of the art would be fantastic on paper, but when it's on the ground, it amazes people more," Hollenbeck said. "It's fun to get to talk to people you know and talk to people you don't know who like your work."

Hollenbeck works alongside his daughter, Grace,  to complete the 12-by-12-foot street murals. This year, the duo decided on an interpretation of "Daniel in the Lion's Den," which Hollenbeck said is accomplished through a meticulous process. The team first makes a grid, outlines the shapes and then fills them in starting from the center and working outward.

For many who enjoy witnessing such a process and appreciating the impressive final result, a major part of the allure comes from the uniqueness of making art with chalk. Lee Dix, a Denver resident, said the murals being completely temporary makes them all the more special.

"It's vanishing art. They make it, put in all of this time, all of this effort, people get to enjoy it, and then it's gone," Dix said. "There's something kind of zen about that."

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Olivia McLeod works on her piece entitled Pole Star inspired by the 1939 piece created by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Olivia McLeod works on her piece entitled Pole Star inspired by the 1939 piece created by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Andrew Leising works on his artwork of David Bowie from the Labyrinth during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Andrew Leising works on his artwork of David Bowie from the Labyrinth during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year 250 chalk artists participated in the event.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Anthony Menzor stays cool under an umbrella while he watches his girlfriend Stefanie Wachter work on her artwork during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Anthony Menzor stays cool under an umbrella while he watches his girlfriend Stefanie Wachter work on her artwork during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Macy Higgins works on her piece entitled Lucia the butterfly elephant during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Macy Higgins works on her piece entitled Lucia the butterfly elephant during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Featured chalk artist Stephen DeOrio, right, works on his reproduction piece entitled Brave by Andrew Wyeth during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Featured chalk artist Stephen DeOrio, right, works on his reproduction piece entitled Brave by Andrew Wyeth during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Karl Horeis works on his piece, inspired by the dutch artist Johanna Martine, during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Karl Horeis works on his piece, inspired by the dutch artist Johanna Martine, during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Karl Horeis checks out his chalk covered hands as he works on his piece, inspired by the dutch artist Johanna Martine, during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Karl Horeis checks out his chalk covered hands as he works on his piece, inspired by the dutch artist Johanna Martine, during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artists Daniella Battaglioli, middle, and Misha Farris, right, work on their piece entitled Map of the Winds by local artist Mark Howell during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artists Daniella Battaglioli, middle, and Misha Farris, right, work on their piece entitled Map of the Winds by local artist Mark Howell during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.

  • DENVER, CO - MAY 5: Chalk artist Micha Hollenbeck workes on his piece entitled Chronicles during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day. This year there were 250 chalk artists which included 5 professional artists, 145 chalk artists and 100 high school chalk artists. There were 118 8 x8 foot pieces and 5 12x12 foot pieces. Artists used more than 3,400 pieces of chalk and put in more than 6,000 hours during the 2 day event.(Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

    Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

    Chalk artist Micha Hollenbeck workes on his piece entitled Chronicles during the 14th annual chalk art festival on June 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The two-day arts celebration attracts over 100,000 people per day.

Visitors were able to vote for their favorite artists, and winners were announced Sunday evening at the close of the festival. But for some artists, many of whom had logged upwards of 18 hours on their hands and knees to complete their murals, believe the exposure is the biggest takeaway from the weekend.

"If I can make people look twice, I've done by job," said Steven Kuc, a professional muralist. "If someone's interested in getting to know my work after this, that's what makes it worth it."

Awards

  • First Place Best in Show: Angela Checco and Misha Ferris
  • Second Place Best in Show: Kyle Banister
  • Third Place Best in Show: Emily Knaub
  • Best Reproduction of a Master's Work: Arienne Hunter and Kelly Euser
  • Best 3-D: Chris Carlson
  • Best Use of Color: Melissa Clark, Sandra Clark, Rachel Elias, Tony Rosales
  • Most Whimsical: Tadd Moskal
  • Artist's Choice Award: Yadira Rodriguez
  • People's Choice Award: Silas Henton and Kevlyn Walsh

RMCAD Youth Challenge Awards

  • First Place: Heritage High School
  • Second Place: Urban Peak
  • Third Place: Westminster High School
  • People's Choice: Littleton Academy

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