Home Arts Appleton artists chalk a big game during Art On The Town

Appleton artists chalk a big game during Art On The Town


Appleton’s latest art exhibition was the ultimate in short-term engagements.

The audience didn’t extend much further than those who braved the scorching temperatures on Friday to watch the works come to completion.

“Ephemeral by definition,” said artist RaeAnn Blom. “Temporary; just for fun.”

Chalk artists completed more than 30 works along College Avenue on Friday during Downtown Appleton’s Art On The Town. Mother Nature made short shrift of many of pieces as storms ripped through the region on Friday night and Saturday.

Thank goodness for our digital age.

Those who missed the masterpieces can head to the Appleton Downtown Inc. website this week to not only view the art, but vote for their favorites.

For the artists, the satisfaction came in the process.  

Appleton’s Rebecca Opsteen had just as much chalk caked on her person as she had applied to the sidewalk while nearing the end of her piece. She created two colorful and intricate horses outside of City Center.

“It’s probably my best medium in terms of shading stuff,” she said. “The more I do it, the better I get, and I’ve been working really hard on the complex shading.”

Those strolling the avenue had an experience much like a museum and expressed their amazement at the skill they encountered. 

When thinking of chalk on sidewalk, thoughts most often turn to sunshine, rainbows and hopscotch boards.

Blom, who has an exhibit inside Brewed Awakenings, recreated a Picasso piece in chalk outside of the coffeehouse. She settled on the idea that morning.

It’s not her everyday work, though she enjoyed the challenge.

“This is not my deal,” she said while using a brush and water to make her lines bolder. “The canvas is futzy, but it’s fun. We’re having a good time.”

Artists were competing for more than bragging rights. A panel of judges joined the many walking the avenue and their choices for the best will be made public on Monday. The winner will receive $500 while and second and third place finishers will receive $250 and $100, respectively. The People’s Choice winner, which will be determined by votes on the ADI website, will receive a $75 prize.

Friday’s event included music, free ice cream and hands-on activities. Children and the young at heart were welcomed to grab a bucket of chalk and apply their creativity the downtown concrete.

The heat added to the challenge.

“It’s like death,” Opsteen said, “but you get used to it.”

Ryan Duran entered the event in his first trip back to Appleton after a move to St. Petersburg, Fla. It was only his second chalk art event and he went to work outside Cleo’s. 

He learned had a knack for the medium while drawing with his kids out on the driveway. 

The ephemeral quality of chalk as a medium can serve as a confidence booster. There’s nothing to lose.

“If you screw up, it goes away,” he said.