Thousands of area residents looked on or participated in a string of eclectic arts events that unfolded last weekend in Old Town Temecula.
The blast of art bathed several Old Town streets and a cluster of civic buildings in a sea of color. The colors were cast in chalk, charcoal, ink, yarn, watercolors, oil and acrylics by artists and amateurs from 15-months-old to 87 years.
“I love this event. It’s my passion,” Melody Brunsting, a Temecula special events contractor, said as a group of stooped chalk artists scrambled to finish their large-scale pieces on a closed city street. “We have so many talented Inland artists. It’s such a community, a family.”
With city support, Brunsting launched the Annual Street Painting Festival 14 years ago. It annually attracts scores of serious competitors and designates more than 1,700 squares for anyone to decorate with city-purchased chalk.
The chalk art event has grown steadily over the years. This year, more than 100 fine art pieces by youth and adult participants splashed the pavement with nearly every imaginable theme, animal and animated character. There were sharks and submarines, babes and bulldogs, Mickey Mouse and Maleficent. There were also depictions of the Madonna and a scene ripped from the Bible moments after Christ’s crucifixion.
A city count noted that about 1,200 visitors per hour were weaving their way through the event as the Sunday afternoon deadline approached in the chalk art competition.
About seven after years after the Street Painting Festival was launched the city expanded the offerings by adding the Ralph Love Plein Art Contest.
When translated from French, “en plein air” means “in open air.” During such competitions, judges rate paintings done outside in a local setting. Love was a landscape painter and teacher who became nationally known. In the mid-1950s, Love opened the Art Shack in Temecula, a studio where he taught, painted and made a mark as the region’s best known artist prior to his May 1992 death at 85- years-old.
Other activities were added as time passed, and the city last year expanded the event and renamed it the Temecula Art Festival. This year’s event also featured vendor booths, free youth drawing and painting lessons, a high school art show and an Inland Valley Photography Club contest.
For the first time, a three-hour “Yarn Splash” unfolded at Sam Hicks Monument Park. Park benches, lamp posts, a gazebo and other fixtures were decorated with knitted and tied creations crafted out of yarn donated by members of the Temecula Valley Woman’s Club.
Sunday marked the fifth year in a row that Colin Moyer, a 20-year-old art student who has moved from Murrieta to Anaheim, had created a chalk piece. This year, in thanks for his sister’s recent delivery of a premature daughter, Moyer opted to recreate a 17th century painting of the Madonna and Child.
“It was kind of a miracle to us,” Moyer explained of the baby, who was born 10 weeks early and will soon be leaving the hospital. “Her name is Madeline.”
Moyer said it is the event’s friendship and fun that brings him back year after year.
“It’s a cool event,” he said. “Everybody smiles. People here are so nice. It’s almost like family.”