Temporary art: Few come out to see Chalk Art 2010 after event’s 9-year hiatus

At home, Skyler Rafaloff, 6, uses chalk to draw streets, which he drives his toy cars and trucks on.

So when he came to the Pelican Bay Rotary Club’s Chalk Art 2010 on Sunday to see some massive, colorful chalk paintings on the parking lot pavement at the Mercato in North Naples, he was truly impressed.

“There’re all different kinds of designs, and I’ve never saw anything like this,” Skyler said. He came with his parents and little brother, Owen, 3, to see all 47 of the chalk paintings, which he admitted were better than the ones he draws at home.

“I do like the shark one,” he said. “A shark is my favorite underwater creature.”

Sklyer also liked the chalk interpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting because he saw it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “I like it because I can see all the stars and the buildings,” he said. “All the stars look real.”

Chalk it up to the multitude of fun, family-oriented events that took place in Collier County this weekend or the lack of event publicity, but Chalk Art 2010 experienced a relatively low turnout this weekend compared to previous years.

In addition, the artistic event took a nine-year hiatus — the last one took place in 2000 — so the Rotary Club members felt that not many people in the community were aware of the event.

“We tried to renovate (the event) and get it going again to see if the public would accept it,” said Bill Nelson, a member of the Pelican Bay Rotary Club. “This is a test year, and we would love to do it again next year.”

The Pelican Bay Rotary Club is a local division of Rotary International, an organization whose more than 1.2 million members provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

All of the proceeds from the event, which amounted to more than $10,000, will go toward the Pelican Bay Rotary Club’s college scholarships, which are given to local high school seniors.

Members of Barron Collier High School’s Interact Club — the high school version of the Rotary Club — helped organize the event and create some of the artwork.

“It’s a good way to help out in the community, and it raises money for scholarships,” said Jacqueline Thorsen, a senior at Barron Collier High School and a member of the Interact Club.

Most of the local artists finished the chalk paintings, which were painted in 6-foot by 6-foot, 9-foot by 9-foot or 12-foot by 12-foot squares in the parking lot across from AZN Restaurant, on Saturday, but Heidi Saletko was finishing up her chalk interpretation of Pablo Picasso’s “Mediterranean Landscape.”

“I love Picasso, and I have a huge book of his work,” said Saletko, who worked on her 12-foot by 12-foot painting for about 14 hours total. “I just like the tropical feel, and living in Naples, it just goes so well with the tropical theme.”

Many people were walking around the parking lot on Sunday afternoon to look at the paintings. The art viewers could even pay 50 cents for a chance to vote for their favorite painting. The winner’s painting will be printed on the front of Chalk Art 2011’s event T-shirt.

Some of the other chalk paintings included seahorses, giraffes, a gazelle, a scene from “Finding Nemo,” the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs, the Red Queen from the new “Alice in Wonderland” movie, bright tropical fish and a pond with lily pads.

Ryan Rafaloff, Skyler’s father, liked the painting of a beach scene with an egret.

“It makes use of the natural background of blacktop, and it’s blended into the ocean,” Ryan Rafaloff said. “It’s real lifelike and it’s very well detailed.”

The Uebele’s came to see the chalk paintings on Saturday when they were incomplete, so they decided to come back on Sunday to see the final masterpieces.

“It’s bold, I like the colors and it looks good on the pavement,” Joan Uebele said of the seahorse painting, which was one of her favorites. Both Joan and her husband, Bob, hope that the Rotary Club will host another Chalk Art event next year.

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E-mail Sarah Donovan at sdonovan2@gmail.com

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