Thursday, February 28, 2008

Three Trillion Dollars

*Concept Sketch for the Chalk Drawing

This morning I sat in on the Alameda district VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) meeting. Surprise budget cuts came down from the state at a price of four million dollars. There was a great deal of fear and anger in the room. Talks of closing down several elementary schools (one that my kid goes to) and taking away the elementary school music teachers from K - 3rd grade. And as a reminder here.... there are NO art teachers in any of the elementary schools here in Alameda.

I heard on the radio that there is a 3 trillion dollar military budget trying to get passed. Anything wrong with this picture? Big sigh.... I am interested in ways to initiate our youth so that they grow up past being adolescence in men's bodies, generating fear, waging war, and using valuable resources - instead of taking on the responsibility for the well being of themselves, and for everyone and everything else on this planet. Why? because they know we are all just one big great beautiful creative family whose home is the Earth.

Monday, February 25, 2008

13 Weeks Till We Hit the Ground DRAWING

Here is the area on the base that we will be drawing on. The Navy ships are in the back ground, the aircraft carrier floating museum US Hornet is there. Our space is 468 x 415 ft. which is under 200,000 sq. ft. The world record for largest chalk drawing is 60,000 sq. ft., we'll go for 100 - 120,000.

You are not suppose to tell people that you are freaking out about a project, wondering if you can even pull it off. You are suppose to tell only a few selected inner circle friends and dump to them. So I am "not" saying this here, everything is moving along just way it should!

This week is reorganizing the "todo" list. I have a new journal and will sit down with the old one and review it all, taking notes, and updating everything. It's a great way to see where we have been and to see where we still need to go.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Colored Chalk
Fleeting, Passing, Non Permanent
Drawing on the Ground

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Once upon a time there were 2 kids who got lost on an island. They really just forgot how to get back home and for three days they tried to remember. On the 3rd day they discovered an old house and an old lady and old man living there.

The kids helped out around the house in many ways and they were given a gift by the old people. What do you think these kids did? The children who I told the story to said, "do chores, paint the house (black), clean their dentures, help out in the garden, tell them stories by drawing pictures."

The old man gave the kids a salamander. Now I know of 2 salamanders, one is a Fire Salamander that is described as a "living dinosaur" because it is one of the oldest living critters on this planet. The other is a relatively new critter on the planet, a Tiger Salamander, which is an endangered species that is local to the San Francisco Bay Area.

The old lady gave them leaf from a Ginkgo tree. Ginkgo's are one of the oldest living trees in the world, they date back 270 million years. Ginkgo is also a helper plant, it is used today to help people with memory loss, (and our story the kids have forgotten how to get home and the storyteller has forgotten how the story ends).

Well, the salamander eats some of the Ginkgo leaf and remembers something and takes off and the kids follow. Now with each school I tell the story to, a new animal shows up to help with this great adventure. At Edison Elementary School an otter showed up, at Washington a tiger, at Bay Farm a dolphin, and at Paden a pelican.

to be continued...

Thursday, February 14, 2008



Valentine's Day - hope you are feeling the love, if not... go look into the mirror and make it so. Something about today feels different, the sun has just come out, my wife has taken the kids to school (her day, yesterday was mine, we trade off), and the music is up loud. I just found a pile of great music, 124 songs for $20, and 3 of them are over an hour. All rave, trance, electronica music. Do a search in iTunes for GU Mixed.

Small Town, Big Vision. Alameda is a small city off the coast of Oakland CA. One mile wide by 12 miles long. The northern 1/3 of the island use to be NAS (Naval Air Station). Built during WWII for propeller airplanes for aircraft carriers. The area had excellent wind for flight. During the heavy war times the base was one of the hottest places on the west coast. The base closed in 1995 after being involved in WWII, Vietnam, Korea, the cold wars, and the Persian Gulf War.

The night of Sept. 11, 2001, I rode my motorcycle out onto the base, no one around. I stopped by the water and saw one lone plane up in the sky and I knew that it was a military plane, all the other planes in the country had been grounded. It was strange and wonderful to be there. Pretty interesting that we are now making some big art on the grounds, on the runway.

I send out prayers into the future where and when we are learn how to all to get along in powerful, life supporting, creative, respectful, mature, and amazing ways.

The chalk drawings that I included here are from the Youth in Arts, Italian Street Painting Festival that happens annually in San Rafael CA. Clayton Thiel and I have been working together for several years, making sculptures and chalk drawings. This is one we chalked in 2005.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The 10,000 THINGS

There is a saying that is Buddhist in nature, that to go out and try to acknowledge the 10,000 things in your life is useless, you will only become overwhelmed and exhausted. But if you allow the 10,000 things to come and acknowledge you, you will be filled by the source, by ten thousand rivers flowing effortlessly into your belly, your ocean of soul.

This is slightly hard for me to do at 4am when my monkeymind has already begun to spin. So my best practice - get up and be in action while allowing the 10,000 things to come to me effortlessly - it's a good constant meditation these days, it's good medicine..... and good music also helps!

Things started to crank yesterday on the project. We got permission to put a slurry coat (thin black coating - great for drawings, saves chalk and fingers) on the runway where we'll be chalk drawing. But we also have been asked to have this done by the end of March so the an endangered species of bird, the California Least Tern, will not be effected.

This means for us that we need to finalize size, drawing, get the site surveyed, get a price estimate, and raise funds to get it all done. Add everything else up and you get ten thousand and one things, coming our way.

Please donate to the project and be part of a really BIG VISION.

Supporting the Creative Future,
Creative Director


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Washington Elementary School

Friday the Kid's Chalk Art Project descended upon Washington. The morning was cold, had my gloves, and hat on. I set up with music and 2 cases of chalk. The kids came out around 9:30am and I left after 3:00pm with the playground full of art and kids still drawing.

Now where's that hot tub!

It was a really good day for chalk drawing, the kids are so cool, wide open, interested, and willing to try something new. In a school where there are no paid art teachers, these kids were totally excited and everyone was drawing - everyone!

Moments that I Remember:

• A teacher standing around, I go over and look at their hands "hey... you're hands are still clean, wheres the chalk colors? They didn't know they could also draw, they get down on the pavement and begin to chalk draw and don't stop until the class has to leave.

• A little girl making a BIG drawing that takes several other classes to fill in.

• Kids wanting to show me their drawings.

• Kids asking for help with their drawings.

• A boy looking lost, I get him to draw with me, we draw a basketball and fill it in with wild colors.

• Special Ed class, fun kids!

• A teacher can't draw, not because she didn't want to but her knees wouldn't let her, so I offer to draw for her. She picked the colors and I start to draw a star.... other kids come over and help.

• I am being interviewed on video, kids come over to hang out with me (really to be on camera) and I end up interviewing them on why art is good for them.

• Kids at recess come over and ask it they could draw - YES!

• A girl who I sense may feel neglected says wouldn't be allowed to come on the big "Kids' Chalk Art"drawing in June. I tell her she can come with her class on the field trip during class time. She had chalk all over herself and we had fun drawing together and talking.

• A teacher bring a boy over to me, she said that he was caught drawing over other kid's art and using angry words. I talked to him, talked about respect for others creativity, respect for oneself. I gave him some consequences. He had a make his best drawing and then show three other kids what he made. We also walked around together and looked and talked about the drawings that we liked.

• This school has many kids from around the world, not much money, and fewer parents involved in school activities. Many kids may be struggling with English, but man.... could they draw!

To learn more about the KIDS' CHALK ART PROJECT and how to donate to the cause, please visit our web site.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

In 1993 Youth in Arts, the San Rafael chalk drawing festival, had their 10th year anniversary. Over a dozen artists worked for 6 days and created a half size copy of Michaelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Tomorrow, we chalk draw at Washington Elementary School in Alameda. It will be a long day. I look forward to seeing all the kids and looking into their eyes.


Sunday, February 3, 2008


Back in 1994, Artist and friend Phil Roberts (above photo) was invited to be the featured artist at the Santa Barbara "I Madonnari" Chalk Drawing Festival. Phil asked me (Mark Wagner) to help him create a 8 x 20 ft. chalk drawing of Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment." We would have 6 days and $. I told Phil that I had never chalk drawn before and I wondered if I would hold him back, he said "nah, I'll have you up and running in a day." And so it was and such a great experience.

Fast forward. I've been chalk drawing in festival ever since - 18 years. Now comes 4 different lines that converge to create the Kids' Chalk Art Project. Chalk drawing, elementary school, and a men's group called the East Bay Nation of Men (Ebnom), and Google Earth.

1) In 2003 Youth in Arts , the chalk drawing festival in San Raphael CA, created one of the largest old master chalk drawing, Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I was one of the artists working on this big collaborative project, it took dozens of people and 6 days to create a 25 x 65 foot chalk drawing.

2) My kids were now in elementary school in Alameda CA. I was being an art docent which is a parent volunteer program that brings art into the classrooms. I looked around and was curious why there were paid music teachers but NO art teachers at all. As a professional artist and educator I know that whatever all the reasons were and are, that this is wrong. It's not a way to invest wisely into our kids and into the future of our country and into the world. Not nurturing kid's creative spirit is in my opinion is suicide. Supporting and inspiring kid's creative spirit is planting seeds in fertile soil and one of the best things we can offer up to the local community and world. Anyone who is able to be creative in any and ever situation in their lives is free, powerful, alive, aware, able to choose, and be of service to businesses, community, relationships, and to themselves.

3) Ebnom is a local non denominational men's group that supports men, families, and community, and has a wonderful sense of spirit and is filled with a bunch of amazing big hearted guys. I was at one of the events and a man stood up and asked,"What would you do if you have 40 men and all their assets (time, tools, and energy).... got a DREAMS?" I had never been asked this question before and so I thought about it for two weeks.

4) When I first got on Google Earth, I zoomed down into my kid's elementary school playground and I saw the chalk drawing that we had done that year with all the kids.

Then I had the vision, all four lines came together, the question, the recent chalk drawing adventure, and my experience in elementary school being an art docent and seeing that something was missing, and seeing a chalk drawing by kids from a satellite photograph.

Let's create the world's largest chalk drawing, break the Guinness World Record, inspire humanity, get a satellite photograph of it, and create some cash flow to help get art teachers back into the elementary schools, and more.

PLEASE CONTRIBUTE NOW to the Kids Chalk Art Project.