Chalk it up to the power of art 

Whoever thought that a SCAD spring event would go from being a small gathering for students to a festival attended by nearly 10,000 students, Savannahians and tourists?

As unlikely as it may seem, that has been the evolution of SCAD’s Savannah Sidewalk Arts Festival. The Festival was held outside of Poetter Hall its first year.

The following year streets behind Poetter were blocked off and student and faculty artwork were sold. From there the Festival traveled from Poetter to Madison Square to the Savannah Visitor Center, to its current home at Forsyth Park.

And it’s not just the location and size of the event that’s changed over the years, says Suzie Clinard, one of the original organizers of the event.

“It’s the artwork. Students are continually getting more creative with the variety and content of their art,” she says. “There’s also more 3-D art and group squares now then there have ever been.”

There’s more going on at the Festival nowadays, too. Awards are given for first, second, and third places, with a Drawing Minor Award for the best use of chalk as a medium.

Best depiction of marine environmental awareness will be rewarded with the Gray’s Reef Fantastic Fishes Award, and the 2000 Club is sponsoring a cash award for the best artistic representation of community service.

Hungry? All chalked out? Food from Chic-Fil-A, Roly Poly, Mellow Mushroom, Sweet Leaf Smokery, and Ben & Jerry’s will be sold at the Festival. While you’re eating you can watch scenes from SCAD’s West Side Story and listen to the numerous live musical performances.

Organizing the Festival and chaos is Savannah native Danny Filson, executive director of the Trustee’s Theatre. In his ninth year with the Festival, Filson especially enjoys seeing all of the community come out to enjoy the day with the students.

“Seeing families strolling and looking at the art or having picnics, just making a day at Forsyth, that’s my favorite part,” he says. “We’ve even heard of tourists waiting to take their vacations until the end of April just to come to the Festival.

“The Savannah Sidewalk Arts Festival gives us the opportunity to see what SCAD students are up to, to see our neighbors, and to just make a day with the family all at one place and at one time,” explains Filson. “It’s a wonderful coming together of Savannah.”

The Savannah Sidewalk Arts Festival will be held at Forsyth Park Saturday, April 30 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Artists who are high school juniors or seniors must pay an admission fee of $5 a square, which includes a box of chalk. Call 525-5225 or visit www.scad.edu/saf/.


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Ashley Jensen

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