Walkways made ‘weird, wacky and wonderful’ for chalkfest

Aug 20, 2023

At Onset’s 9th annual chalk festival, 4-year-old Coady Flaherty wanted to “draw the earth.”

With the world as his muse, Flaherty created a colorful mural of trees, butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and “puffy clouds.”

Over 130 artists including Flaherty covered the sidewalks of the Lillian Gregerman Bandshell in chalk for Onset Bay Association’s Chalk-Full-O-Fun Festival on Saturday, Aug. 19.

“The art is just amazing — it blows my mind how creative you can get with chalk,” said Kat Jones, executive director of the Onset Bay Association.

“I love that it becomes a public art display until it rains,” said Jones. “Everything is temporary and that’s the beauty of it.”

This year’s theme was “weird, wacky and wonderful,” which was vibrantly displayed across the pavement.

Artist Jocelyn Vache created a portrait of a praying mantis with help from a skateboard and knee pads.

Knee pads protect her knees from the hours of kneeling and the skateboard allows for accessibility, explained Vache.

She has participated in the chalkfest since it began and “figures it out as [she] goes.”

“The people are friendly — it’s such a good vibe,” said Vache.

Each artist had their own strategies on how to create a chalk masterpiece. Some used spray bottles of water to help set the chalk, others used paintbrushes or their hands for blending.

Andrea Cairnes, however, began using a piece of a pool noodle to help blend the colors.

“It softens the chalk without taking the color off,” explained Cairnes, who got the idea from her brother-in-law.

Cairnes grew up spending summers in Onset and participates in the festival each year as an artist. This year, she created a wave piece with various hues of red and blue.

Newcomers Edward and Shonna Weiss from North Carolina also took their inspiration from the ocean.

The Weiss’s, with help from sons Benji, 4, and Remi, 2, drew a memorial piece for their grandmother, Dotty. The piece showed a ship called the “Hot Dot,” going over a blue wave.

“We got some amateur artists over here that practice all the time,” said Edward Weiss about his sons.

Their piece received second prize for the work that best captures the natural beauty of Onset and Wareham, sponsored by Wareham Land Trust.

Returning artists Fred Gillis and his nephew Charlie Cairnes received first prize in the Wareham Land Trust’s competition and the people’s choice award with their drawing of Codman Point.

Honorable mention went to veteran artist Helio Pacheco from New Bedford, who created a portrait of a surfing astronaut.

While the artists worked, acoustic music echoed through the bandshell from Pete and Beth Sanders, craft vendors sold a variety of trinkets and caricature artist Noa Juarez drew portraits.

With help from the Wareham Free Library, the festival had an on-theme story walk of “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak.

Drawing inspiration from the book, 10-year-old Lucia Robertson created her interpretation of the Wild Things illustration.

The event was sponsored in part by grants from the Wareham Cultural Council and Rochester Cultural Council.

“The committee is so grateful for all the extra hands that went into making this year a success,” said Chalkfest Organizer Milly Burrows. “The organizers and volunteers love seeing families have fun.”