Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival colors the city in bright hues

Mia Cotten, 4, adds some color to an empty parking lot near Town Square on Main Street in Old Town during the Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival, June 11.
Mia Cotten, 4, adds some color to an empty parking lot near Town Square on Main Street in Old Town during the Temecula Art & Street Painting Festival, June 11.

Stephanie Lai
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Hues of every color imaginable covered the asphalt streets in Old Town Temecula as the city reinvents its annual Street Painting Festival. Starting June 9, artists were invited to begin working in their space. Art exhibitions and visitors began coming in to see the sights at 5 p.m. During June 10 and 11, more artists came to start and finish their chalk pieces. Festival tents filled the sides of the street with merchants and artisans featuring fine artists, ceramicists, jewelry designers and photographers lining Town Square Park, Main Street and the Civic Center quad.

The three-day event brought in artists of all mediums to add to the asphalt gallery with lots as big as 12 by 12 feet. An estimated 4,000 visitors were greeted with the enriching atmosphere as they partook in conversation with the community – even the artists as they worked.

Focusing on the theme “Community Pride,” brother and sister pair Melissa Welch and John Whitman recreated a picture of a firefighter to show their support toward the city’s fire department. Welch and Whitman worked together this year to avoid a larger participant fee, paying only $25 for their lot.

“They are charging this year and they’re definitely getting more elite artists this year and make the competition harder, but we’ve won in the past,” Welch said.

Welch and Whitman won “Best Depiction of Theme” awarding them a ribbon and $50.

“We had a picture of our brother in law actually at a fire with a cool silhouette behind him, except he had a frumpy face, so I told him to photoshop a nicer picture of his face onto it because it looked almost like he started the fire,” Whitman jokingly explained the story behind their design.

Ultimately, they chose a different firefighter picture to recreate.

Although there is a price to participate, the city puts the money back into supplying the artists with chalk to fill their space with all the colors they may need.

According to Wilhe Augustine with the city of Temecula, this year’s winners also covered Best Youth (12 and Under) awarded to Aidan Wilkins, Commissioner’s Choice awarded to Olivia Thompson and Best of Show awarded to Caleigh Steele and Kennedy Cormwell. Wilkins and Thompson were given ribbons and $50 with Best of Show. Steele and Cormwell were given ribbons and $200.

With youth and teenager divisions held near The Civic Center Quad, families had the opportunity to support local students and their futures.

Chalk artist Allison Arnold, who competed in the teenager division, said she appreciates the platform provided by the community to emphasis local artists and was grateful to have the opportunity to participate.

“My piece was on inspiring people with art,” she said. “It’s a dolphin, and our whole slogan is save the sea and one earth, one community.”

The decomposition of the piece due to the nature of chalk art enhanced her piece as it mimics the destruction of ocean life and the necessity for community intervention. In her piece, she invited anyone to come and add a fish, leaving out chalk for children to decorate the space with.

Artists used various tools and techniques to polish their works from pastel grade chalk to paint brushes. Longstanding participant Suzanne King described her techniques on her unfinished piece.

“I freehanded the work with the chalks they provided us,” she explained. “I use a paintbrush to help fill it in. When you draw, it just goes on the top, but the paintbrush pushes the powder in to cover the valleys and crevices and it smoothes it out. Other artists have even crushed the chalk and add water to make it a paint.”

Emphasizing spontaneity, King spun her subject of a tiger by filling it in with numerous colors to create a kaleidoscopic effect.

Much like the medley of art encompassing the murals across Old Town Temecula, the art festival brought color to the community and newfound pride.

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