Sidewalk Auteurs

Sidewalk Auteurs cover image, featuring a series of colorful chalk drawings from the neighborhood.

I'd nearly forgotten this mini-feature I'd started on the sidewalk art that cropped up over the course of the spring and summer during the protracted Covid lockdown. Suddenly, the pavement seemed to come alive with color as I walked my usual routes, no doubt the result of a lot of folk coming to terms with some serious cabin fever. I couldn't help but snap a photo anytime I'd find a new sketch, and built up quite a library over the course of the seasons. These are some of the highlights. Not much in the way of commentary this time out, just a series of snapshots of chalk artwork from this year's sidewalk auteurs.

A fish, some flowers, and a drink drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

In the dead of summer, this one captured the prevailing mood quite well.

The message 'Stay Healthy' drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Sound advice during a pandemic. A public service even.

The message 'Black Lives Matter' drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Topical. This one from early June, after the battle of La Mesa went down.

An op-art mosaic drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, filling a whole concrete panel.

Next level. Anyone knows that we love a good mosaic around these parts, and this op-art design — filling an entire concrete panel — was one of the highlights of a whole summer of walks.

The message 'Free Food' drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

One knock-on effect of the lockdown and people stuck at home was that they suddenly had a lot of time for all those projects they'd always wanted to take care of around the house. Gardening was just one example, and people even took to leaving plant clippings and homegrown fruits and vegetables by the sidewalk for passersby to claim. That this one came with a drawing was an added bonus.

A unicorn drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Love the brute force of this one. Hard lines matched by terse labels — 'unicorn' and 'run' — and the brick path becomes a part of the whole affair. Shades of Blade Runner.

A beatnik, drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, asks the question 'Ya like jazz?'.

This one made me chuckle. It's the eternal question innit?

Walking aquamarine drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Abstract creatures in motion. I imagine this slipping into animation to the interstellar grooves of The Future Sound Of London’s We Have Explosive and 400 Blows’ Declaration Of Intent.

The messages 'Vote' and 'Thank You' drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, festooned with rainbows, stars, suns, lightning bolts, and other designs.

Another elaborate one, and another one with a message, this time sprawling across multiple panels in vivid multi-color splendor. Even the vanishing perspective adds to this one.

The message 'Stay Cool, pups!' drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, pointing to a water bowl.

Aww, now that's sweet! It was pretty hot out, after all.

Abstract hearts drawn in chalk on the sidewalk.

Another abstract one. Breaking hearts? Deceptively simple, but effective.

A colorful planter corner wall emblazoned with multi-color pastels.

And finally the colors creep up off the sidewalk and onto the walls. Dig the way the plants play off the colors. Definite mid-sixties Blue Note vibes in evidence. I think this one might be here to stay (I'll have to check back to confirm). A fitting conclusion to a season's showcase of the neighborhood sidewalk auteurs, who brought the pavement to life in vibrant, living color.

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