‘We can do it’ – Rosie the Riveter chalk art sends message of hope

Edna Gomez and her daughter Sylvia Lyden pose for a photo with their chalk drawing of the famous image of Rosie the Riveter wearing a mask. The two wanted to inspire hope during the COVID-19 shutdowns in Temecula. Valley News/Courtesy photo

A local Temecula family uses chalk art as a message to the community during difficult times.

Sylvia Lyden and her mother Edna Gomez started drawing in chalk a few years ago, when they first signed up for Temecula’s Art and Street Painting Festival.

“We just signed up one year and we loved it,” Lyden said.

Both mother and daughter took an art class together at Mt. San Jacinto College in 2000. They also had a side business doing murals a few years ago.

“It’s a hobby,” Gomez said.

A chalk art drawing of Rosie the Riveter begins to take shape on a Temecula sidewalk. Valley News/Courtesy photo
This chalk art drawing is Rosie the Riveter with the actual poster. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Their recent chalk art is the well-known picture of Rosie the Riveter from World War II, but she’s wearing a mask.

“It just kind of went with the times, like everybody’s doing their share,” Gomez said. “We kind of know that story of Rosie the Riveter, how the men were all at war and the women had to pitch in.”

Gomez said that they almost ran out of chalk when creating it.

“We ran out of the black and white and the skin color at the nick of time, and I’m glad we had enough,” Gomez said.

They had tried going to several stores but found the shelves empty.

“We barely made it with the chalk we had,” Gomez said.

Lyden took a lot of art classes in college.

“I was starting to go for a teaching degree, and I kind of just got sucked into art and didn’t really finish, and just have been doing a lot of that for fun,” she said.

Rosie the Riveter took about five days to complete.

Rosie the Riveter, complete with face mask, is nearly completed. Valley News/Courtesy photo
Edna Gomez and Sylvia Lynden’s completed chalk art is Rosie the Riveter wearing a facemask. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“She measured the space and the dimensions she wanted it to be,” Lyden said of Gomez.

“We grid it because of the big size. It’s kind of hard to sketch it freehand,” Gomez said.

“We gridded a picture that we found online and just kind of scaled it to that,” Lyden said. “She (Gomez) initially drew the whole thing, but I just kind of kept erasing so we started doing it as we went instead having it all drawn out beforehand.”

They worked on the project in shifts.

“I’m a morning person and she’s an afternoon person, so I did like two hours in the morning and she’d do a couple hours in the afternoon,” Gomez said.

“We worked a lot when it was shady because it was pretty hot that week, so it took a lot longer than normal,” Lyden said.

They said they are currently waiting for this one to fade before they start their next.

“We want to do Dorothy, just the ruby slippers where it says ‘there’s no place like home,’ something like that,” Gomez said. “Being here at home you’ve gotta find things to keep you busy, you know something more productive than watching TV.”

There is another reason they drew it, however.

“It inspires other people,” Gomez said. “I know one of our neighbors that did a little heart that said thank you, and I took my two grandchildren for a walk and I said this is a thank you for the first responders and the nurses.”

While they don’t have their mural business anymore, Lyden said she would like to possibly pick it up again one day. To see some of their previous artwork, visit their Facebook page, Starving Artists Murals.

“It would be fun to make some money doing something that we love,” she said.

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at lhowe@reedermedia.com.