Chalk artists bring Cherry Street Plaza to life with 3-D art

pramati@macon.comMarch 22, 2013 

There’s no need to be concerned about falling from a bridge and into the canal in front of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

It’s not real.

It only looks that way.

A three-dimensional chalk painting commissioned by the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Gateway Project has drawn a crowd of visitors to Cherry Street Plaza to catch a glimpse of a new painting by world-renowned chalk artist Tracy Lee Stum.

The painting, a canal lined with cherry blossom trees that uses the natural parts of the brick patterns in front of the museum as “bridges” for the scene, has drawn all sorts of visitors downtown as people have been getting their photos taken to incorporate themselves into the chalk drawing.

Stum, who completed the project with fellow chalk artist Sharyn Namnath, said the human factor is the final piece of the puzzle.

“Most people love illusions, and I view it as completing the painting,” she said. “It hinges on public participation.”

Karen Lambert, president and CEO of the festival, said she first saw Stum’s work a couple of years ago and wanted to incorporate her art into last year’s festival, but she wasn’t able to schedule it.

But for this year’s 30th anniversary of the festival, she wanted to make sure a work was commissioned. The festival partnered with the Gateway Project to hire the Ventura, Calif.-based Stum.

“All the pieces just fit,” Lambert said. “We’re super excited. This is very cool.”

Lambert and Beth Dunwody, executive director of the Gateway Project, tossed around some ideas with Stum about what the image should be and sent the artist some of the places downtown that might be a good spot for it. Stum settled on the sports hall after seeing the architecture and brick patterns.

Ben Sapp, executive director of the museum, said the sports hall has seen an increase in visitors the past two days thanks to the artwork.

“It’s been nice seeing the activity,” he said. “We’ve definitely had an uptick in visitors (Tuesday and Wednesday). ... I’m glad they chose to do this here.”

Dunwody said that Gateway’s website, www.itshotterhere.com, will have time-lapse video of the artists at work to create the image.

“People are intrigued by the process,” she said. “There’s a lot of engineering, geometry that goes into it. It seems to be a really good fit for us. Gateway is all about showing a different perspective of Macon.”

Stum, who holds a Guinness World Record for creating the largest outdoor chalk drawing ever when she was commissioned to do a chalk painting of The Last Supper in New York City to promote the movie “The Da Vinci Code,” said this is her first trip to Macon.

“It’s a wonderful town,” she said. “It’s just beautiful. The people have been super friendly.”

Officials said the painting can be covered with plastic and cardboard to protect it from the rain. Officials want the chalk painting to last at least through Saturday night, when the festival’s Street Party takes place.

Kathy Vance of Gainesville, Fla., who is visiting Macon for the first time, watched as the artists put the finishing touches on the artwork.

“It’s totally amazing,” she said. “To do it up close like they do and (create the 3-D effect), that’s such a talent. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati,

call 744-4334.

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