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Life and Arts

Chalk up another: Artists create colorful murals as a fundraiser

Once a year, Diana Sund gets out in the sunshine toting a couple of boxes of rainbow-colored chalk and creates a sidewalk mural for all to see.

She and 600 fellow Southern California artists will be coloring the sidewalks this weekend during the 18th annual Pasadena Chalk Festival on Paseo Colorado.

The event is presented by the Light Bringer Project, a Pasadena nonprofit organization that supports community arts programs.

Sund, of Glendale, calls her style “whimsical.” This year she has chosen space as the fanciful frontier of her street painting scene featuring the Hubble spacecraft.


She calls it “Hubble Universe — Away!” mirroring the phrase “Up, up and away,” she said.

This is the fifth go at the festival for the former Burbank resident.

“It’s interesting because there are hundreds of artists doing the same thing, and it’s interesting to check other artists out to see what they are doing,” she said.

Each artist is given a large square to do their artwork, which fits in her comfort zone, Sund said.


“A lot of my work is large, [so] it’s easy for me to do a large piece on the concrete,” she said.

“It’s cool — about 6 to 10 feet large on the sidewalk.”

By day, Sund is an illustrator. She graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

She moved to Pasadena in 2004 to help her brother, whose design firm was working on the Princess books for Disney Studios, she said.

Now she does illustrations of her own characters on posters, T-shirts, coffee mugs, baby items and dog wear.

For the chalk festival, she’s doing a science fiction theme.

The main character is patterned after an illustration she did years ago of an alien riding a rocket ship like a horse into space, she said.

Her updated design has the alien flying over Mars.


“I’m having him lasso the Hubble spacecraft,” she said.

“On the black background I’m making colorful swirls of space gases — reds, blues, greens and purples. The alien is a yellowy greenish color, and the spaceship is silvery white. Mars is red. It should stand out pretty good.”

The humor Sund puts in her chalk work makes it fun for the viewer, said Tom Coston, president of the Light Bringer Project.

“At the festival, we try to offer something for everyone,” he said. "[Sund’s] work is really accessible and enjoyable for everybody because she uses humor. Her work is a little like her personality — it’s upbeat and whimsical.”

Over the years, the number of artists has kept growing, Coston said.

They’ve even had to add a waiting list. Last year, there were 175 murals drawn, but this year there will be 200, and artists’ works will be spilling over from Paseo Colorado onto the pavement in front of the Pasadena Convention Center.

There are 600 artists scheduled to participate in the festival, including individuals and teams.

This year, they are trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest display of chalk pavement to authenticate its title as the World’s Largest Street Painting Festival, Coston said.


“We’re probably 20 murals larger, and never have gone through the Guinness process, so we thought we’d go down and prove it,” he said.