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Chalk on the Wild Side

Sidewalk soul: Concrete forms of expression at Chalk It Up.
Cakewalk Projects

As former director of the popular First Friday stop Artfit Exhibition Space, which was housed in the monOrchid building, Scott Andrews knows how to attract a crowd to an art event. So he's already figured out the best way to jump-start his new nonprofit, without any funding: "Throw a party," he says.

Open Venue, an arts advocacy organization that Andrews recently founded with Heard Museum curator Joe Baker, makes its debut this weekend with Chalk It Up, Phoenix's first street-painting festival, complete with art, entertainment and food.

Throughout the weekend, artists will make canvases out of concrete in Heritage Square, creating a sprawling landscape of rainbow hues with nothing more than chalk and imagination. 2002's International Street Painting Festival winner Genna Panzarella and Tucson's Cristina Cardenas will join local artists Randy Slack, Steve Yazzie, Sara Hubbs and Mario Martinez, as well as graphic and graffiti artists and teams of art students. Each artist is sponsored by a company or individual, and proceeds will benefit both Open Venue and the Phoenix Family Museum. Kids are welcome to join in, too.

The celebration is produced by Andrews' event production company, Cakewalk Projects, which is behind downtown's Cakewalk temporary art sites. Over the next year, Andrews says, Cakewalk Projects and Open Venue will do "some impossible-to-be commercial installations downtown," large-scale video projections, and even a contemporary arts festival. "We want to increase pedestrianism," he says.

Andrews' longer-term goal, perhaps three years out, is even more ambitious: He's working on a Phoenix art and architecture biennial that will include participants from desert cities the world over, from Mexico City to Tehran.


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