The chalk meets the Chess Park

Under the threat of a dark sky, Anne Marie Darrach worked steadily in Chess Park with her chalks, blending and layering as she brought Glendale’s first-ever “street painting” commission to life.

Over the weekend, she chalked out a recreation of Michelangelo’s “Creation of the Sun and the Moon” near the sidewalk in front of passersby. Some stood and silently watched, others were more inquisitive, but all walked away having seen art in progress.

“When people see artwork created, it gives them a better understanding and knowledge of art,” said Razmik Grigorian, chairman of the Arts & Culture Commission, which co-sponsored the event.

Unlike other street chalk paintings, Darrach’s work — commissioned by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department — will last beyond the next rainstorm.

That’s because Darrach painted it on canvas. The surface requires almost double the work, she said, but it also means a typically temporary piece of art will have a more lasting impression.

The piece will be put on exhibit periodically until a permanent mural-type home for it is designated, Cultural Affairs Coordinator Ripsime Marashian said.

For an artist used to the fleeting nature of her art pieces, it change was “refreshing.”

“It’s nice to know that it will be around for awhile,” Darrach said.

It was the 13th piece for the award-winning Madonnaro, or master chalk artist, and the first commissioned so far outside the standard chalk art season, which usually runs from May to September.

“So this was a treat, to go out to the garage and dust off my chalk and come out here and get all chalky in December,” she said, chalk smudges on her face.

While she planned to have the piece 90% completed by the end of Sunday, work on the project began a week ago, with prepping, drawings and planning, Darrach said.

She recently completed a similar commission for Santa Clarita, but this piece was her first on canvas.

The public event — budgeted at roughly $3,000, including the artwork — also came with harp and flute performances in a nod to the Renaissance period of when street painting claims its roots.

But it was the two days of public work that served a dual purpose for the artist and organizers.

Beyond the benefit of the final product, it was the very public process of creating a painting on the sidewalk, for all to see, that brought added value to the project, Marashian said.

“It is very accessible to the public, for them to see it being created,” she said. “It’s less intimidating.”

For Darrach, the public interaction that comes with street painting is what hooked her in the first place. She started as a volunteer on art projects, and then in 2002 struck out on her own.

“The public really does inspire you,” Darrach said. “It’s like an addiction.”

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