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Chalk this one up to art

Eleven-year-old Gillian Delany suffered for her art on Saturday.

Gillian spent the afternoon hunched over a chalk drawing that will decorate H Street in Grants Pass as part of the annual Art Along the Rogue festival.

This year's theme was movie posters. Gillian sketched a large, yellow alien from the "Despicable Me" animated movies.

"I picked a Minion because they are me and my mom's favorite part of the movie," Gillian said.

Gillian was among dozens of chalk artists who beautified the street running through downtown Grants Pass. She hardly seemed distracted by the hundreds of people stopping by to snap pictures of her piece.

"The hardest part is rubbing the chalk into the cement," Gillian said. "It starts to scrape off the skin on your fingers."

Jessica Painter of Grants Pass worked on a patch of street next to Gillian.

Painter jumped at the chance to recreate the movie poster from the Australian cowboy flick "The Man From Snowy River." It's one of her favorite movies.

The piece featured a dramatic silhouette of a horse rearing up against a burnt orange sunset.

Painter spent the first hours of the festival etching the striking backdrop. Like Gillian, Painter did not let the throng of onlookers snatch away her focus.

"I can just zone out and concentrate," she said. "It is kinda fun to hear the comments on your piece, though. You get used to people snapping photos and hardly notice it after a while."

The downtown area was closed off for the festival, which has grown quickly over the past decade.

The movie poster theme was embraced by the artists. Many of them commented that movie posters have become an art form.

Everything from "Finding Nemo" to Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist masterpiece "Metropolis" found their way onto the street.

Kerrida Hall and her daughter, Jessica Liskey, toiled over the iconic robot image from "Metropolis."

"People want to know why we would work so hard on something that will be washed away in the first rain or rubbed off by car tires," Hall said.

"But people are taking hundreds of photographs of these pieces, so they are going to live on forever."

Seventy-five-year-old Betty Wolff had the good fortune of spending two days sketching James Dean looking cool in his famous red jacket in "Rebel Without a Cause."

"He was quite a hunk," Wolff said.

Wolff remembers catching "Rebel Without a Cause" at the theater when it was first released in 1955.

"James Dean and Natalie Wood were my heroes," she said. "That was back in the days when we wanted to be rebellious."

Just down from Wolff's piece, Russell Crowe's glowering figure from "Gladiator" rose from the street.

It was bookended on each side by lighter-hearted fare, such as "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Earth Versus the Flying Saucers."

Cathy Gallatin of Medford spent most of the morning poring over the eyes of the Aslan, the lion character from "The Chronicles of Narnia."

"You gotta get the eyes just right," Gallatin said.

Gallatin said it's critical to get at least one-third of a chalk drawing done the first day; otherwise you will be rushing to finish by the end of the festival.

The theme made it easy to crouch on the street under the sun, Gallatin said.

"Americans do movies; that's our thing," she said.

Hidden Valley High School art instructor Ben Bickle spent the afternoon giving tips and encouragement to a group of his art students who set about creating an ambitious collage featuring several characters from "Marvel's The Avengers."

Pockets of students knelt side by side to etch Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk into the street.

For Bickle, the value of the festival was in its celebration of art for the sake of creation. He appreciates the festival not existing as a competition of some sort.

"This is for everyone to enjoy," Bickle said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Jessica Painter of Grants Pass works on recreating the movie poster from “The Man From Snowy River.” Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore