Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chalk the block -- a lot of fun!

I had planned to go downtown Friday evening to catch the opening of El Paso's (second) Annual Chalk the Block (CTB) this past weekend. To avoid the tremendous heat of last year's event (held in June), this year's CTB was moved to September with an evening start for participating artists, followed by an early 6:00 a.m. start on Saturday morning.

Because of area rains, I opted to forgo my Friday night trek downtown. I figured there might not be much art laid down under stormy skies. Instead, I would get up early Saturday morn -- very early. Arriving downtown at 6:00 there was no light for artist's to work beneath. In fact, in the predawn darkness, there were no artists either.

The main site for many of the chalk the block creations was
this plaza outside the El Paso Museum of Art. In the darkness
of 6:00 in the morning, it was a perfect time for artists to get a
jump on the day, that is, if they were blind! (There were none.)

I've been intending for some time to visit the inner city to catch the light of early morn. To take some pictures. Saturday, waiting for daylight to arrive and the artists that were sure to follow, I had my chance. As you can see, there was just oodles of light for artists to work by at 6:00 a.m.. One was made to wonder if the person who scheduled this start time had ever been awake at that hour of the day this time of year. In lieu of that, perhaps they might have consulted an online almanac for an idea when daylight arrives. (Hint: about the same time as the artists did.)

Too dark to Chalk the Block with art, I decided the only chalking this time of
day might be the outlines of the dispossessed bodies that didn't make it through
the night. (Okay, before the Chamber of Commerce gets too excited here, I'm just
kidding, alright? At least I didn't stumble over any bodies during my walk about.)

It was a bit strange roaming the mostly deserted city streets at this hour. I imagine if one studies the night population of downtown, it likely goes through several phases. First group would be comprised of late shoppers, diners, and show attendees, seasoned with a welcome smattering of tourists throughout. That would gradually morph into bar patrons, the party people. But in the darkness of 6:00 a.m., the only ones I encountered were the less fortunate homeless and indigent scurrying for secret places of invisibility before being caught in the light of the sun.

109 N. Mesa Street, a location and a blog

One of the places I'd decided I would seek out was 109 N. Mesa Street. It's a building wherein an interesting blog of the same name originates. It's creator captures little vignettes of people by photographing them unknowingly as they go about their daily lives.

I shot a few pictures of his building, thinking maybe if the blogger inside saw me shooting his "house" he might shoot back and I would end up a picture on his blog. Sadly, I think it may have been too early in the day. As a result, he was likely shot just as his own victims are -- unknowingly.

The light of day arrives.

As the sky brightened, I decided it was time to amble back toward the Museum of Art. Surely the artists would be arriving soon. I would search the sidewalks for friend Wendy Reyes' entry. While I didn't know what its subject matter might be, she had given me a clue. "It's one of your favorite people."

I had no idea who to expect. That is, until I found she had been out the night before and upon seeing it, I knew immediately it was Wendy's.

President Obama by Wendy Reyes.

Glancing down upon it beneath its plastic sheeting to protect it from any overnight rains, was her masterpiece. It was then I realized her beautiful chalk creation wasn't the only thing showing through the plastic. So was her sense of humor!

"Excellent!" Dada inspects the final product later in the day. (The
President bears a scar where someone accidentally stepped on him.)


Dada addendum: Any minor criticisms I may have expressed as to the scheduling of the event's early start on Saturday morning were far overshadowed by the major success of Chalk the Block. This year's event was bigger and better than the inaugural one last year, leaving me with much anticipation of Chalk the Block 2010!


Border Explorer said...

Loved this post, Dada. The 6 AM early light downtown looks familiar to me as once/week Mr. B.E. & I walk to our shelter work arriving about 5:50AM for our 6 AM shift. We've tiptoed by our fair share of sleeping bodies on the way. It is eerie and peaceful all at the same time.

Fran said...

Cool! Got more pics?

I loved seeing them last year.

Dada said...

Fran: I didn't take as many pics this year (after the sun came up ~grin), but I hope to go through the ones I have and post more soon! As coincidence (?), I received from a niece in Portland boo-coo (that's French 'novoh') pics of sand sculptures. They make our chalk the block pale in comparison? (They were awesome!)

B.E. - Thanks for your blog on the "Global Public Policy Forum on the U.S. War on Drugs." taking place yesterday and today in EP. Mrs. Dada is attending and sends greetings from all your EP family.