Victoria welcomes classic art at street level

First chalk art festival touches ground

Government Street chalk art fixture Ian Morris helped inspire Victoria’s first chalk art festival

Government Street chalk art fixture Ian Morris helped inspire Victoria’s first chalk art festival

It’s a medium that is fleeting but delivers high art at street level. Chalk art lives at the mercy of the wind and rain and shoes.

Most people who have strolled the old section of Government Street have seen this art from the talented hand of Ian Morris, who most often sketches recreations of the Renaissance masters – haunting images of Raphael, Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

Where the work of Morris occupies small sidewalk spaces, the first Victoria International Chalk Art Festival will bring a full-blown exposition to Government Street next weekend.

Five artists, including Morris, will have two days to create 8 x 10 foot masterpieces on Government, which will be closed between Fort and Yates streets. Tracy Lee Stum, the premier 3D chalk artist in the world, will start Sept. 12 in the lower level of the Bay Centre on a 20 x 20 foot creation.

For Morris, this is the first time in his nine years as a chalk artist that he’ll meet his peers from around North America.

“From the start I hoped something like this would happen eventually. I’m proud to bring this art form to Victoria and proud it’s got to this level,” Morris said. “I’m eager to meet others of my tribe.”

The 44-year-old artist admits he started street art as a means to pay the bills. Now he’s embraced the centuries-old tradition of the Madonnari – Italian folk artists focused on drawing images of the biblical Madonna on sidewalks. Morris focuses on Renaissance reproductions, but is also developing “3D” art – images that appear eerily three dimensional when viewed at a specific angle through a camera lens.

“I enjoy the classical reproductions a lot. There’s power in them – grace, beauty, history,” Morris says. “But I got tired of people asking me about 3D (chalk art), so I decided to up my game. They’re a lot of fun, but it’s like learning to draw all over.”

Morris sees his art as part of a larger tapestry of encouraging a vibrant downtown core and creating compelling public spaces grounded in art and culture.

“My real imperative is community. (My art) is a tool to make this a community where people want to be,” Morris says. “There’s more to city life than shopping and working – or there ought to be.”

This philosophy meshes with the goals of John Vickers, creator of the chalk art festival, and the international busker festival, which completed its second season this summer.

“This is part of a bigger picture. Years back I was looking to create three international festivals for the downtown,” says Vickers, noting that he’s looking at a kite festival for the third festival event. “I’m a passionate supporter of downtown. This is about creating free entry, family-friendly festivals in the downtown.”

Vickers, known for his pumpkin art, had the inspiration for a chalk art festival after seeing Morris’ work, and then travelling to Sarasota, Fla., to see North America’s largest chalk art festival, organized by Denise Kowal. It’s Kowal’s connections that allowed Vickers to draw top talent to an untested, first-time festival in Victoria.

“It’s an opportunity to get a considerable number of people down there. An overwhelming number of merchants support this. It’s a boon to business,” Vickers said. “We’ve got to promote the downtown and give it more of a sense of community. We have to keep the downtown relevant.”

“(Vickers) is on the same page as me. To make the downtown a human community you need life, and bringing festivals is a way to do that,” Morris agreed.

Over the years, Morris has become an expert on creating art on sidewalks – he says the brick on Government street sidewalks is ideal for for chalk art. The pebbled road surface might be tougher.

“The road is different. It’s like silk to sandpaper,” he says, shrugging. “You just do what you can.”

Tracy Lee Stum will begin her chalk art drawing at the Bay Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 12. The other artists will create their pieces on Government Street on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 15 and 16). The event is rain or shine (artists will have tents in the event of rain).

Go to victoriachalkfestival.com for more information.

Just Posted

The Town of Sidney supports efforts to rename Reay Creek to KELSET, its traditional SENCOTEN name. (Black Press Media file photo)
Town of Sidney signs off on Reay Creek name change to KELSET

Name change does not affect surrounding parkland, but public supports doing so

Steve Mann and Tim Hackett consider Marigold Lands their finest development. (Rendering courtesy Marigold Lands)
Marigold residences grow more townhouses and condos in Central Saanich

50 condos, 14 townhouses up next for project adjacent to Pat Bay Highway

The Pool at the Esquimalt Rec Centre. (Courtesy of theTownship of Esquimalt/ Facebook)
Esquimalt Rec Centre restarting everyone welcome swim times later this month

The 90-minute sessions will be on select evenings and weekends

Norman Mogensen sets up strings for his beans in his plot in the Oak Bay community gardens. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay gardener spends decades cultivating, improving daddy’s beans

85-year-old vegan part of the community gardens scene

Theatre SKAM is offering mobile, pop-up performances to Greater Victoria residents once again this summer. They’ll feature emerging artists Yasmin D’Oshun, Courtney Crawford, Kaelan Bain and Kendra Bidwell (left to right). (Courtesy of Theatre SKAM)
Theatre performances can be ordered to Greater Victoria front yards this summer

Theatre SKAM offering mobile, pop-up performances once again

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read