Annual Chalk Walk brings colorful street art to Hyde Park Village

If the weather holds up, the Chalk Walk’s art could be here for weeks.
If the weather holds up, the Chalk Walk’s art could be here for weeks.
Published March 14, 2013

Bridget "BK" Lyons chose her chalks, tarp, Aquanet and model photo in preparation to bring to life two beautiful sea turtles on the sidewalks of Hyde Park Village in Tampa.

It will be her third time participating in the Chalk Walk, an annual art competition hosted by the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts.

"The turtles just popped into my head," she said. "I always do an original piece and the more color the better."

She'll be one of 40 artists gathering at W Swann Avenue and S Dakota Street at 8 a.m. Friday to begin transferring their fever dreams and recreations of masterpieces to the difficult medium of sidewalk.

The sidewalk art circuit is close-knit, said Tim Ritter, a 33-year-old sculptor from Valrico who will be participating in this weekend's contest. Many of the participants travel around the state for festivals encountering varying levels of organization along the way.

"I was in a festival in Lakeland once and as soon as we were done, they reopened the street for people to drive across the art," Ritter recalled. "It just all depends on the city on how long the art can stay."

Jennifer Douglas , executive director of the TBBCA, said that Hyde Park Village has been a great friend to the festival, allowing artists to cover their works in process with tarps and tents overnight.

"Some of the artists have to do touch-ups in the morning but for the most part they keep their works protected," she said.

Lyons said the system works so well, she was able to see her work on the sidewalk for weeks.

"Last time it was about two weeks before it rained," said Lyons, 40, a paralegal from Tampa. "I was even able to get pictures of it fading."

Artists look forward to interacting with the crowds of people who pass by as they are in process. "It's technically performance art," Lyons said. "You learn time management and the more you interact, the longer you pause, the longer it takes to complete the piece. I do a time-lapse filming so I have to continue working constantly."

But if watching an artist draw isn't your idea of date night, Douglas said, the festival's opening night has something for you.

At the Friday's ChalkTail Party, beginning at 5 p.m., food trucks will descend on Hyde Park Village and sponsor Blue Moon will be serving libations. Busch Gardens's stilt walkers will be on hand for entertainment along with Tampa band 10th Concession.