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June 1, 2014

WALKING ON ART: Clarksville Chalk Walk Festival draws artists of all ages

Inaugural event attracts people in from near and far

CLARKSVILLE — Any other day, the parking lot behind Clarksville Town Hall would be nothing more than a place to leave the car while paying bills, visiting the war memorial or attending government functions.

On Saturday, there was no parking lot behind the town hall. There was a massive canvas, shared by dozens of artists who worked on their hands and knees to create masterpieces.

The inaugural Clarksville Chalk Walk Festival benefited from sunny weather, drawing people from both nearby and far away to enjoy the arts event.

“I’m really happy,” said Joyce Nokes-Ribble, president of Arts Bridge Inc., one of the event’s sponsors. “I think that for a first-time event with a concept that’s kind of unusual still around the state, we’ve had a really good turnout and everyone is excited.”

The artwork ran the gamut, from recreations of famous works by great masters to abstract drawings open to interpretation.

Charity Carkuff, 15, Leavenworth, chose to draw Meredith, the heroine of “Brave.” Carkuff’s first experience with such a festival was at Jasper’s chalk walk, but she’s been honing her skills once a week by drawing on the outdoor track at the Corydon YMCA. In addition to the chalk provided to artists as part of their entry fees, Carkuff used her own pastel chalk to create the vibrantly colorful homage.

“I just really like to draw,” Carkuff said.

Though young, that’s one thing Carkuff had in common with Saundra Duffee, Jeffersonville, an art teacher set to retire in less than a week. Duffee’s still-life of a bowl of fruit featured extra attention to shading and blending of colors.

“I just came to play,” Duffee said. “That’s what this is all about, just playing and being out. What a great day.”

Duffee had never worked with chalk on pavement before, but you wouldn’t know if from looking at what she created. And that was true for several of the drawings found in the lot.

“I think anything that can get people to create art, interact with art, respond to art is a good thing for our community,” Duffee said. “This is wonderful. I’ve never seen one of these before.”

Ken Conklin was up early with his coworkers making sure that the event wouldn’t fail for lack of preparation. The marketing and communications coordinator for Clarksville Parks & Recreation, Conklin was pleased to see the work he and the parks crew put in Saturday morning was repaid with good attendance and enthusiasm from those who came.

“We weren’t sure when it started if it would be an annual event or not,” Conklin said. “We wanted to try it and see if it worked, and everyone I’ve talked to has asked be if we’re going to do it again next year because they want to come back.”

Conklin tempered his excitement, though. The event didn’t attract professional artists in its first year, and Conklin was disappointed by the lack of other arts organizations at the event. That’s something he said will change at next year’s event.

Even non-artists had plenty to enjoy at the Chalk Walk Festival. Games2U, which also sponsored the event, was on hand with free video games and other entertainment. Children and adults alike enjoyed darting into and out of cover during a pitches game of laser tag, while nearby, others played “Mario Kart” at the Games2U trailer.

“We definitely appreciate our sponsors who made it possible,” Conklin said. “We wouldn’t have had the laser tag and games if it wasn’t for them, so we appreciate them donating their services.”

Chalk Walk artists competed in three categories: Children, adults and families. The first-place winner in each category earned a $100 gift card to Walmart. But Nokes-Ribble suspected that didn’t matter much to the artists.

“I think this shows that everyone is creative on some level,” she said. “Kids are doing it, their parents are doing it and everyone’s doing it together. It shows it’s a community event. It brings people together, and making something is really fun, and I think everyone is really proud of what they’ve done.

“I don’t think anyone’s here for the prizes.”

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The Jeffersonville High School student body enjoys a performance by JHS alumni, The Juice Box Heroes, in celebration of PRIDE, which stands for Persistence, Respectfulness, Initiative, Dependability and Efficiency, on the JHS football field Friday afternoon. The celebration was able to combine the kick-off the behavioral expectations for students and the start of the new school year.

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