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COVID & the Arts: Virtual Chalk Art Fest

Quad City Arts

Another outdoor Quad-Cities casualty of the COVID crisis is the fourth-annual Chalk Art Fest, held by Quad City Arts. 

Unlike last year’s two-day event, held in June as part of Bettendorf’s Be Downtown Festival, the Chalk Art Fest is open now through August 28th. That’s the deadline to submit a photo of your work - at home, on a driveway, sidewalk, porch or balcony - and be eligible for over $1,500 in cash prizes, including a youth category award (for ages 12-17), and people’s choice award. There are no limitations to your work and it can be created with any type of chalk.

Kevin Maynard, Executive Director of Quad City Arts, says they talked about doing a socially distanced version this summer, but couldn’t find a suitable location. Last year's was held in the Ascentra parking lot.

Credit Quad City Arts
Quad City Arts Executive Director Kevin Maynard

“There were a lot of people; we were really tightly packed and it created a really great atmosphere. The artists loved it, but that obviously creates some issues with today’s social distancing guidelines.”

Bettendorf’s Be Downtown was postponed from June to August, and Quad City Arts still hoped to have it in person, until the downtown event was canceled, and moved to a virtual format. Last year, 80 teams participated, with a total of 100 people and attendance of over 2,000. This year, people have more time to get involved and Quad City Arts has seen a good response to sign-ups.

“One of the benefits of going virtual this year is, obviously travel is no longer a barrier to get here, but also not being in a crowd like that may offer some people the opportunity to try it out. Now they can do it in their own space, in their own timeframe.”

Artists who tag @quadcityarts on Facebook or Instagram or use the hashtag  #chalkartfestqc and #quadcityarts will have the photos and videos of their installations shared throughout the weekend, and be entered to win one of ten $25 gift cards to downtown Bettendorf retail and restaurant businesses.

“The Bettendorf business association has been a great partner with us last year, and we were working toward a great event this year. We know that event being downtown helps drive traffic, just as their event helps drive traffic to ours, and it was important for us to be able to partner with them to help showcase their businesses that would have been highlighted during that time as well.”

By September 1st, prizes will be awarded, including a People’s Choice, where people can see photos from the Quad City Arts Facebook page or quadcityarts.com, and vote for their favorite.

“This is one way to showcase a different style of art, that may be hard to put into a gallery setting, but also is a nice way to attract people to Quad City Arts. One of the things that’s really great about the arts in general and our mission to enrich the quality of life in the Quad-City region is, the arts help drive tourism and help bring people into the community. And that’s exactly what an event like Chalk Art Fest does.”

Free 48-count boxes of pastel chalk, courtesy of Blick Art Materials, will be available at Quad City Arts’ Rock Island Gallery (1715 2 nd Ave.) during normal business hours until supplies run out. Entrance is via the arts alley on the side of the building and masks are required.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.
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