Monday, June 1, 2009

Capitalism and Community Art

It's only appropriate that I begin my art odyssey from my home of Berkeley, California.

This past weekend, Berkeley celebrated its thirteenth annual Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival. The festival is based on simple logic: Berkeley has a neighborhood that is chock-full of fine restaurants (affectionately known as the "gourmet ghetto"). Encourage people to create art on sidewalks outside the restaurants, then lure them inside with chocolate samples, and not only do the people have a fun community event, but they also get great exposure to the local dining establishments. It's a win-win situation and an example of the positive potential of capitalism done right.

A high percentage of the sidewalk art was actually advertisement for the local shops. Businesses were encouraged to have some chalk on the ground before the start of the festival. This meant that a random visitor didn't have to be the first person to start drawing on the sidewalk. Instead, when people arrived, they were greeted with an already vibrant atmosphere of color and numerous examples of what could be done.

People of all ages seemed comfortable plopping down and drawing.

Most chocolate samples were acquired by purchasing $1 tickets and entering a restaurant. Cafe Gratitude, however, was kind enough to offer free samples on the street.

It wasn't just businesses that used this opportunity to advertise.

Some true Berkeley Art

The caption reads, "Save the planet, it's the only one with chocolate!"

One of the best things about sidewalk chalk is that it makes meeting new people very easy--you just walk up and comment on their art. Several people remarked that the world would be a better place if cupcake plants really did exist.

For more pictures, click here


MF Connection said...

We know that music makes it possible for people to share their feelings in public. This event shows visual expression can do the same thing. The chocolate reward encourages people since they feel they are earning it by creating art.

Ben Colahan said...

You'll be happy to know there were also several bands playing, and some even encouraged the crowd to join in.