Downtown Sarasota was awash in vibrant colors Saturday for its fast-growing annual Chalk Festival.
This year's festival is once again featuring the work of internationally known chalk artist Kurt Wenner, whose 3D works have launched thousands of internet inquiries by people asking if they could possibly be real.
Yes, indeed they are, and this year he supervised and helped with a work that pays tribute to Sarasota's rich circus history. Visitors to the festival can actually be a part of his sidewalk art by appearing to those who view it from a certain angle to be walking on a high wire or riding an elephant. Other works by hundreds of artists will also play off that theme.
The festival, which runs through Tuesday but has its main events this weekend, is located between the 300 and 600 blocks of S Pineapple Avenue. In addition to the sidewalk art and interactions with the artists, visitors will be treated to two music stages, and a performance stage showcasing music, drama, dance, and acrobatic and aerial performances. Outside food vendors are not allowed on the grounds so that local businesses might benefit from the event.
Last year's festival was the first time the festival went "vertical," inviting artists to decorate walls. Back this year is a form of vertical art relatively new to the U.S. called "Cellograff," which involves wrapping posts or trees in cellophane and spray-painting it, resulting in a temporary art installation.
According to the festival's website, more than 200,000 people attended the event last year.