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VENTURA : Students Chalk the Day Up to Art Awareness

On the sidewalks in front of Ventura College’s art buildings, Kim Morris uses a thick piece of bright pink chalk to draw an outline around Taryn Alvarado on Tuesday afternoon.

“Hey, you’re moving your hand,” Morris said. “You can’t do that. You’re supposed to be dead.”

After creating their own version of a police outline of a body, Morris and Alvarado filled in the figure with abstract doodles in a rainbow of colors.

They and the rest of their drawing and composition class took a “field trip” into the sunshine to participate in the art department’s “chalk-in"--part of the college’s Art Day.

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Other classes remained indoors, providing an arts open house for wandering visitors. The day ended with the opening of the college’s annual faculty art exhibit. But Art Day will continue today from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.

M.B. Hanrahan, an instructor at the college, said the Art Day, including the chalk-in, was designed to increase awareness of the arts.

“The art department is on the periphery of the school, literally as well as figuratively. So we need to make it visible,” she said.

Gerd Koch’s oil painting class received several visitors, some interested in taking a course sometime and others just indulging their penchant for the arts.

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Dennis and Barbara Meyers, who drove up from Camarillo to celebrate Dennis’ birthday, fall in the latter category. They wandered the painting classes, looking over each artist’s work intently and chatting with some of the painters.

But most students were attracted by the chalk drawings that coated the sidewalks from the art building to the cafeteria area.

Doranda Martin of Ojai, an accounting major, said she picked up some colored chalk because it looked as if others were having fun.

“I wasn’t ever going to take an art class,” she said while standing over the yellow and orange sun she drew. “But maybe I will, if we do fun things like this.”

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Hanrahan said the faculty picked chalk because it was familiar to most people.

“They’ve had some experience, even if only from being a kid,” she said. “At least 25% was done by people just walking by.”

Jonathan Kent, a first-year art student, created a landscape of a boat on stormy waters across the formerly clean cream pavement.

“I just grabbed some chalk and started drawing,” he said.

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He added that he thought the effort would help others appreciate the arts.

“I’ve seen people near the cafeteria looking at the drawings, trying to figure out what’s going on,” he said. “And some of them have come up here and eventually grabbed a bucket of chalk.”


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