Chalk it up at Art Along the Rogue
Artist Jolene Rose Russell participates in many street-painting festivals throughout California and the rest of the country where artists create huge works of art in chalk on pavement.
“While they are temporary, these street paintings are among my most prized pieces,” she says.
The Sacramento, California-based, award-winning multimedia artist will create a large-scale chalk painting for the 16th annual Art Along the Rogue, an art and music festival that will run Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5-7, in downtown Grants Pass.
“Wild & Scenic” is the festival’s theme this year, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Rogue River’s designation by Congress as a Wild and Scenic River.
One of seven artists to be featured, Russell will create the centerpiece of the festival: A three-dimensional rendering of the Rogue River by employing “trompe l’oeil” or “trick of the eye” techniques and realistic imagery.
Without giving away the specifics of the optical illusion planned, Russell would only say that the end result will be “wild.”
Nationally renowned chalk artists Lysa Ashley, Delphine Louie Anaya, Ever Glavez, Meredith Morin and Raziah Roushan will be joined by Jamie Bryn, a Grants Pass painter and tattoo artist. They will work elbow-to-elbow alongside nearly 40 local and regional artists.
The artists will gather at 5:30 p.m. Friday for preliminary work. They will work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on their hands and knees, transforming a 12-by-12-foot patch of asphalt into a pastel masterpiece celebrating the Rogue River in all its glory.
Children can be street artists at the festival, too. They can create chalk paintings in either 2-by-2-foot or 4-by-4-foot squares. The squares, ranging from $5 to $20, can be purchased anytime during the event at the corner of Fifth and H streets. Admission to the street painting and music festival is free. Food and beverages and will be available.
Art Along the Rogue was launched in 2003 to celebrate the region’s diversity in both the visual arts and musical genres. The three-day art walk, block party and street fair has become one of the Northwest’s premier art and music festivals, according to Jon Bowen, the executive director of Travel Grants Pass, the lead organization for the event.
Its success can be chalked up — literally — to the street painters who create a patchwork of landscapes, portraits and still-life interpretations of the annual theme.
Dubbed “screevers” in Britain and “madonnari” in Italy, the artists are known here as performance artists who work magic with chalk, say organizers. Their canvas is asphalt, and their stage (or gallery), two and a half city blocks in a historic part of downtown.
Voted “Best Artist of the East Bay” in 2013, Russell began working with chalk in high school. She’s received acclaim for her hand-painted murals in and around Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a regular at the Marin Street Painting Festival. This is her second year in Grants Pass. She joins a long list of Art Along the Rogue alums, including Ashley, Anaya, Glavez and Morin.
Glavez unleashed a 3-D chalked gator at the 2017 Art Along the Rogue.
Homegrown Bryn has participated for 12 years, six with her tattoo wand.
Roushan is a festival newcomer. Her portfolio includes more than 50 exhibits, 20 large-scale murals, and participation at 47 chalk festivals.
In addition to nonstop art in action, Art Along the Rogue includes nonstop music throughout the weekend.
Live music starts at the corner of Fifth and H streets at 5:30 p.m. Friday with John Dough Boys, a five-piece band that plays a rowdy fusion of bluegrass, punk, folk and rock.
At 7:30 p.m., Zepdrix, led by critically acclaimed guitarist Jeff Pevar, pays homage to the music of Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix.
On Saturday, Brother Angus will play Celtic-inspired music on guitar and bagpipes from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
Third Seven, a one-man band featuring cellist Billy Mickelson, plays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Adam Knight will perform from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Rogue Valley hard rockers 221 Fly take the stage from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
The folk-country duo Brothers Reed is the final act Saturday. They will play from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
On Sunday, guitarist Jeremy Meyers will play an electric mix of country, blues, folk, hip-hop and rock from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Guitarist Allen Giardinelli serves up Mississippi Delta blues from 12:45 to 2 p.m.
The Evening Shades will play original rock from 2:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Cover band Colonel Mustard — B Wishes, Johnny Trujillo, David Matthieu and Jack Hopfinger — closes out the weekend. They play from 3:45 to 5 p.m.
Tammy Asnicar is a freelance writer living in Grants Pass. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.