Beaverton, Oregon: Art today, gone tomorrow
Not everything lasts. Not everything is designed to.
More than a dozen artists gathered in Beaverton over the weekend of Aug. 9 to 11 to apply chalk to pavement. The work was laborious, the loving looks of the audience lingered, but the works itself will not. Here today, gone with the next rain.
Welcome to the first of what could become a signature art event for Beaverton: La Strada dei Pastelli Chalk Art Festival, sponsored by 2D4D arts organization that
supports works in two dimensions — such as pastel paintings — created in four- dimensional — three-dimensional space and time.
Artists, musicians, patrons and fans took over a corner of the parking lot of Cedar Hills Crossing, Southwest Cedar Hills Boulevard at Walker Road, for the three-day event that began with prep work on Friday.
In English, "Strada dei Pastelli" translates as "Street of Chalk." Fittingly. Chalk-on-sidewalk, as a medium, dates back five centuries to what we know today as Italy, according to Raziah Roushan, Beaverton resident, chalk artist, board president of 2D4D and executive director of this first-ever festival.
"Artists worked inside cathedrals, then would come out to draw on the ground what they painted inside, to share it with the public," Roushan said.
The ephemeral artform began in Italy, later met a revival in England and, about 30 years ago, was imported to the States by artists in the Santa Barbara era. Roushan is from that area originally. Now transplanted to Beaverton, she's brought the tradition with her.
Sharyn Chan, also of Santa Barbara, came north for the festival. She travels to many such events, hitting about 18 of them last year. Decked out in latex gloves and stretchy clothes, her hair purple and her attention rapt, she sat splay-legged on the asphalt, her shoes supported by cardboard squares and painter's boxes, sketching a woman's face in profile, adding skin tone and glow.
"I like the asphalt. I like the feel. It adds texture," she said.
The work she created that overcast Saturday morning would be gone — most likely trampled on and driven over — by the next weekend. Chan doesn't care.
"I find it great," she said of its temporary nature. "I don't have to sell it, I don't have to store it, I don't have to do anything. You know? I just want to draw! I get to draw it and not worry about what happens next. That's good."
Not all art has to be super-serious. Karen Liu and Nancy Lin labored over their taped-out square of parking lot, gingerly recreating a pastel image of the late actor Leonard Nimoy as Commander Spock from "Star Trek."
And why not? "We love 'Star Trek.' We love Spoke. We want to commemorate him," Liu said with a big grin and a wide shrug. "We need people who use logic in this world. Right?"
Liu normally works in watercolors and enjoys "plein air" art, or outdoor frescoes. Lin, on the other hand, is new to the whole paint-while-they-watch notion. She smiled and glanced around at the audience standing over her work. "This is fun!"
Kate Kristiansen of Beaverton and Vanessa Sanne of Hillsboro worked together to create a montage of fish. "It starts off as a parking lot," Sanne said. "You have to embrace the 'ugly.' You have to work to get the beauty out of it."
"I love to participate," added Kristiansen, a former Beaverton City Council candidate and creator of the Beaverton Pride festival and parade. "I love Beaverton. I couldn't wait to try this."
Organizer Raziah Roushan said the event cost $80,000 to put on and drew more than 60 volunteers and donors. The city of Beaverton ponied up $20,000 for it. The goal, she said, it to make this the signature art piece for the city, every year.
She's committed to this venue for two years. After that? The event could grow.
The festival may be staying put. The artworks won't.
"I like that it's temporary. When I create chalk art, I don't have to worry, will this last 500 years? I get to think, um, let's try purple and green today and see how that looks." Roushan watched the works coming together and sighed happily. "Isn't that cool?"
La Strada dei Pastelli Chalk Art Festival runs until 6 p.m. Saturday and will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Cedar Hills Crossing, 12770 S.W. Walker Road, Beaverton.
Along with chalk, the Festival features an itinerary of live performances by such groups as Portland Opera A La Cart, Dizzynest and Roberto "Tico" Gonzalez and Xavier. Community Jams, based out of Portland, is celebrating the immersive effects of the festival and is inviting guests to join them on stage to collaborate jazz tunes created in the moment. Guest are encouraged to bring their own instruments, but some will be available by the band as well. Community Jams will play from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
The event is free. To learn more, go to 2D4D art webpage.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.