Friday, August 28, 2009

Street Painting - Juvenile Hall / Camp Sweeney

On Weds. the mens group ( I am part of visited the Alameda County Juvenile Hall Camp Sweeney and did a chalk drawing with the young men who are locked up. Juvenile Hall the prison for teenagers.

Ebnom guys or Juveniles??? The young men at Camp Sweeney can not be photographed.

We had about 30 young men drawing with us for a few hours in the morning after I showed them my artwork and talked to them about chalk drawing and how we set a world record.

I have taught art and creativity in prison for many years, I like it. I remember once feeling safer in prison that outside in this sometimes crazy world. Camp Sweeney is an adjacent complex to the Juvenile Hall, it's where the young men go before they are being left out.

I was excited the night before going, not nervous, which I realized is a similar feeling in the body but definitely different. At the camp hanging out with the young men I was surprised how comfortable I was being close to them.

I didn't hear stories of why they were there, I didn't ask, and I know none of their stories are good. One of the councilors said they are lucky to catch 1 out of 10 young men who go through program.... that's sad. I wanted everyone of them to win in living and understanding and knowing what it takes, and then having the support and inspiration to do it, to live into their dreams.

I picked a snake with wings for the image we were going to draw. I have always thought of this type of artwork, chalk drawing / street painting as medicine for the people. So what do these young men need? Transformation, healing, shedding old skin?

The snake is the most widely used symbol in all of humanity, across the globe in all cultures. Symbolizing evil and temptation in one culture, spiritual protection in another. Deceitfulness, guardianship, poison and medicine, renewal, rebirth, regeneration. I once wrote a small book titled, "The Universe Creating Itself. My Life as a Snake."

This is a Caduceus. I just learned while writing this blog that the caduceus is sometimes erroneously used as a symbol for medicine, especially in North America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, which has only a single snake and no wings.

Also from the web: A snake with wings is the mythological symbol for the human ego. It is in the form of a dragon. It represents the inner dragon of a person, which the person must slay before he or she gets to his or her desire.

Film maker and musician Kevin Footer with the Kids' Chalk Art Project t-shirt on.

In the end the young men did some of their tricks, they drew gang signs that needed to be drawn over. It turned into quite the scene, not bad, just interesting, a little crazy, but I.... was more interested in drawing and didn't pay that much attention to it. Leading by example.

Bless those young men!

~Mark Wagner
Creative Director: Re-Enchanting the World Through Art
Supporting and Inspiring the Creative Spirit in Youth and Community
a 501(c)3 nonprofit
Buy a chalk book, support the creative future by investing in it now!
Small Town ~ Big Vision

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Blessing of the Urban Animals

Mark Wagner & Clayton Thiel chalk drawing at the Youth-in-Arts annual Italian Street Painting Festival in San Rafael CA, June 13-14 2009.

This year we followed our interest in pushing the 3D aspect of chalk drawing. We created our sketch using foam core and made a 3 dimensional maquette that we light and photographed.

We started Friday evening and needed to be done Sunday by noon for we were both going to a wedding. Clayton and I have been chalk drawing at this festival for the last 4 years. Clayton was actually going to leave Sat. night at 6pm. I was going to stay late and then finish solo on Sunday. We had our work chalked out for us.

We continued with our splattered chalk and cracked street technique.

This years theme was a prayer for the Urban Animals: raccoon, crow, rat, pigeon, ladybug, deer, snake, coyote, fish, etc... My dog got into a bloody fight twice with a raccoon in one week recently in my front yard, really ugly and disturbing for everyone involved. We wanted to send some good energy to all these animals that we know are having a hard time surviving in our human controlled environments.

And then we had urban animals show up! Clayton's grandson came to visit and hitched a ride and being a great photo opportunity for many people passing by.

Here I am, Mark Wagner wearing a Kids' Chalk Art Project t-shirt. I created a project that set a new World Record for the largest chalk drawing in 2008.

I was personally moved this year by the people who I meet. There is something magical and mysterious about these chalk drawing festivals, especially this one. A place where hundreds of artists create for hours and hours, where thousands of people come to see, watch, and interact.
In the evening it gets quiet, but there are still people working, still people walking around after dinner.

But something else is present for me, the conversations with kids and adults was amazing. Something seems to open and be present when so many artist and people get together - it's beyond words - I guess I will leave it at that!