Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Chalk Artists for a Day

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Chalk Artists for a Day

Article excerpt

COMMENTARY

VENICE -- Fresh from helping the rest of the volunteers apply a black base coat of paint on the "Seniors Going Vertical" wall, Jan Mann did her best to entice senior visitors to be the first to place a mark upon the wall.

The first few people who walked by the display at the Sarasota Chalk Festival in Venice politely declined. Finally, Mann took matters into her own hands, literally, and coated her right palm with a layer of coral red chalk, pressed firmly on the board and left a pastel palm print that she later signed.

Not a perfect fit with the "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" theme of the festival, which concludes today at the Venice Airport Festival Grounds, but at last there was art on the wall.

Other members of the volunteer crew at the vertical wall followed suit. Jackie Vizzi drew a picture of Hallie Berry -- her dog, not the actress; Betty Rowan drew a portrait in profile; and Suzie Martin drew a mermaid in a martini glass.

"I've been telling people that they can draw," Martin said. "So if we start drawing, it's going to motivate people to draw."

Meanwhile, Vizzi wrote the words, "Seniors Going Vertical," on the wall -- using hollow letters, so people could color them in.

And with that, the pump was primed, and passersby stopped in to let their creativity flow.

Pat Becht, in town from Rochelle Park, N.J. for her niece Lisa Grasso's baby shower, was first. She carefully drew a flower and signed it, "Pat."

Martin, whose volunteer job included helping shy artists get started, convinced Becht to give it a go.

"So it's thanks to her that I got the nerve to do that," Becht said.

Nanette Crist, from Punta Gorda, stopped by to color in the "V" in vertical and "G" in going, though technically she's not a senior.

"I know that it's self-selecting whether you want to be a senior or not," Crist said with a smile. "I felt like a senior at the moment. …

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