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One of America’s first Sidewalk Art Festivals
A sure sign of spring is a bunch of kids chalking a hopscotch court on a city sidewalk. The warm sunshine seems to give urban people such impulses. But few policemen would sympathize if they found adults using the pavements for drawing boards.
In San Francisco, however, authorities understand. The city’s Recreation and Parks Department recently sponsored an official “chalk-in for all ages.” It staged it in an area where the “hippies” congregate—the rendezvous of the philosophic college dropouts and other young people.
The results were exciting. In almost no time, we are told, 200 eager entrants in the contest claimed the 200 packages of colored chalk which the Park Department had ready to distribute. Others brought their own. Soon the chalk artists had covered with their sketches the four-foot squares of asphalt assigned to each. Many bright, original designs appeared. Spectators crowded.
The first rain was expected to wash away the entire art exhibition. But its lesson will remain. It indicates that cities should find more outlets for the creative abilities of their youth. More than half a century ago the settlement house movement sought to meet this need. Now other organizations such as the Job Corps are taking on the task.
But the focus should not be on the needs of the poor only. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is on the right track in setting up its chalk-in for people of all ages and stations.
Published in The Christian Science Monitor (10th April 1967)
Researched by Philip Battle
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