Fort Oglethorpe be­com­ing a go-to place for chalk art

The Catoosa County News - - FRONT PAGE - By Ta­mara Wolk

Chalk art events are be­com­ing a sig­na­ture of Fort Oglethorpe, and that makes a lot of lo­cal peo­ple happy, in­clud­ing Thriv­ing Com­mu­ni­ties Di­rec­tor Chris McKeever.

McKeever says the po­ten­tial of chalk art to bring the com­mu­nity to­gether was first brought to her at­ten­tion by artist Durenda Cheek, who is a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors at the Sixth Cav­alry Mu­seum, which is run by McKeever.

“Ev­ery time Durenda was at a fes­ti­val where there was chalk art,” says McKeever, “she would call and tell me we re­ally needed to bring it to Fort Oglethorpe.”

McKeever and

an­other board mem­ber fi­nally vis­ited the two­day chalk art event in Ma­ri­etta, hosted by the Ma­ri­etta Cobb Mu­seum of Art. They met Zach Hern­don and his wife Jessie Queen, co-founders the Ge­or­gia Chalk Artists Guild.

“Zach and Jessie have been part­ner­ing with us to help make chalk art a part of our com­mu­nity,” says McKeever.

In March, Thriv­ing Com­mu­ni­ties in­vited chalk artist and guild mem­ber Meg Mitchell to fea­ture in an event at Gilbert Stephenson Park in Fort Oglethorpe. Mitchell spent all day cov­er­ing large squares of pave­ment at the park with beau­ti­fully drawn lo­cal his­tor­i­cal scenes, in­clud­ing a horse and mon­u­ments.

Mitchell re­turned to the com­mu­nity for Pa­tri­o­tism at the Park on July 3. Hern­don and Queen were also at the event work­ing their wonders on the street.

The unique thing about these artists is that they didn’t mind shar­ing their can­vas with am­a­teurs. The com­mu­nity, from chil­dren to adults, was in­vited to stake out a space on the street and draw to their hearts’

con­tent. For those not in­clined to drop to their knees on the road, stand­ing chalk boards, made with ma­te­ri­als do­nated by Home De­pot, stood at the ready.

“We gave spon­sored stipends to our three pri­mary artists,” says McKeever. “The oth­ers were part of the com­pe­ti­tion we held.”

North Ge­or­gia Elec­tric Mem­ber­ship Cor­po­ra­tion spon­sored Zach Hern­don, who recre­ated a WAC — Women’s Army Corp — mem­ber, like the ones who trained at Fort Oglethorpe in the 1940s.

Cal­la­han Me­chan­i­cal spon­sored Jessie Queen who etched out the theme of the event — I Love Amer­ica — by draw­ing an Amer­i­can Bald Ea­gle in a cir­cle.

Bat­tle­view Bed & Break­fast spon­sored Meg Mitchell, who de­picted the hero­ine Wonder Woman.

When the artists at Pa­tri­o­tism at the Post were fin­ished and the judges had made their con­sid­er­a­tions, first prize went to Fayetteville res­i­dent and chalk artist Heather Cap for her draw­ing called “Hands of Free­dom” de­pict­ing a man sew­ing an

Amer­i­can flag.

Cap, who moved to Ge­or­gia from Ari­zona with her hus­band to take ad­van­tage of the state’s thriv­ing film in­dus­try, says the thing she loves about chalk art is the fact that it’s tem­po­rary. “It frees you to keep mov­ing on to new things with­out ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a bunch of art and wor­ry­ing what to do with it.”

Sec­ond place went to Charles Hern­don, Zach Hern­don’s dad and a rel­a­tive new­bie to chalk art, for his de­pic­tion of Cap­tain Amer­ica.

Melissa Lohr, who was inspired, along with her daugh­ter, to pur­sue chalk art by Cap, took third place for her col­or­ful draw­ing of the Statue of Lib­erty. When Lohr isn’t cre­at­ing art at fes­ti­vals, she and her daugh­ter draw in their drive­way for the en­joy­ment of pass­ing jog­gers.

McKeever says the com­mu­nity should ex­pect to see more chalk art and is wel­come to join in. “We’ll be do­ing this again at La­bor Day at the Post and we in­vite ev­ery­one to try their hand at. It’s great for any age and any skill level.”

At­lanta-based chalk artist Zach Hern­don cre­ated a draw­ing at Pa­tri­o­tism at the Post de­pict­ing a mem­ber of the Women’s Army Corp that trained at Fort Oglethorpe dur­ing World War II. (Ca­toosa News photo/Ta­mara Wolk)

Fayetteville chalk artist Heather Cap won first place at Pa­tri­o­tism at the Post for her draw­ing ti­tled “Hands of Free­dom” de­pict­ing a man sew­ing an Amer­i­can flag. (Ca­toosa News photo/Ta­mara Wolk)

Meg Mitchell’s draw­ing of Wonder Woman at Pa­tri­o­tism at the Post was her sec­ond time cre­at­ing chalk art in Fort Oglethorpe. She par­tic­i­pated in the Thriv­ing Com­mu­nity Interactive Art Walk in March. (Ca­toosa News photo/Ta­mara Wolk)

Chalk artist Jessie Queen, who co-founded the Ge­or­gia Chalk Artists Guild with her hus­band Zach Hern­don, cre­ated an Amer­i­can Bald Ea­gle for Pa­tri­o­tism at the Post. (Ca­toosa News photo/Ta­mara Wolk)

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