Art NotesArts & Culture

Classic City Chalk Fest Transforms Pavement into Canvas

ALL AROUND THE WORLD: As an expedition artist, Athens-based painter Alan Campbell has carved out a niche for himself by traveling to remote areas of the world and using his artwork as a medium to raise awareness of environmental issues. Currently on display at the Farmington Depot Gallery, his newest collection of paintings were inspired through ongoing work on the barrier islands of coastal Georgia. Placing an emphasis on the vanishing Gullah-Geechee culture, the paintings depict sun-kissed waterfront scenes and natural, moss-covered landscapes distinct to the Lowcountry.

Since graduating with a MFA from UGA in 1975, Campbell has worked with large scientific research programs and nonprofits such as the Nature Conservancy, African Wildlife Foundation, Explorers Club and Ossabaw Foundation. His combined interest in science and art has driven him to visit vastly different terrains, journeying to Kenya, New Zealand, Italy, Chile, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Notable projects include capturing the snowy slopes and pastel-hued icebergs of Antarctica as a visiting artist with the U.S. Antarctic Program through a grant from the National Science Foundation, and documenting the lush biodiversity of the rainforest in Costa Rica and Peru as a visiting artist with the Organization for Tropical Studies.

A closing reception with the artist will be held at Farmington Depot Gallery on Friday, May 15 from 6–9 p.m.


Photo Credit:

“Chris Rex” by Susan Cofer

TIME LINES: Over at the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, “Recapitulation, 1963–2015: Drawings and Sculptures by Susan Cofer” offers a retrospective of the Atlanta artist’s diversity and refinement in style. Curated by Asen Kirin, associate professor of art at Lamar Dodd, the exhibit reflects two distinct crafts: soft drawings rendered in colored pencil and sculptural portraits made from papier-mâché.

Meticulously rendered in thousands of tiny, vertically oriented lines, Cofer’s drawings serve as a meditative practice for both the artist and viewer. Trusting her intuition, the artist allows the repetition and precision of the labor-intensive process to guide the direction of the piece. The minute details invite viewers to come up close and lose themselves in the microcosm.

Though abstract, many of Cofer’s drawings suggest a strong influence from the natural world. The focal points often shape into biomorphic forms, and the texture created through delicate lines resembles the patterns found on bark or skin.

“Recapitulation” is Cofer’s third show at MMCC over the past 30 years. An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 15 from 6–8 p.m. and will begin with an artist talk with Cofer at 6 p.m. in the center’s auditorium. The exhibit will remain on view through Sunday, Aug. 30.

PAVEMENT PICTURES: Presented by the Athens Area Arts Council and Colors of Connection, the inaugural Classic City Chalk Fest is a two-day event celebrating the age-old tradition of street painting. Though chalk’s vulnerability to the elements makes for an ephemeral art form, its impermanence is part of its lure. Because the final product cannot be preserved, chalk art is essentially a process-focused performance art that allows spectators to watch as artists slowly blend colors to create shadow and depth.  

Kicking off festivities on Saturday, May 16 from 1–4 p.m. at Creature Comforts, a half dozen local professional artists will transform the asphalt into canvas for an exhibit of pastel masterpieces. Following the artist showcase at 5 p.m., the festival will move a block over to Ciné for a screening of Beyond the Walls, a documentary on the modern mural movement. As artists and activists discuss conflicts and hot topics within their respective communities—spread among Northern Ireland, Liberia, Argentina, Australia, El Salvador, West Bank and the U.S.—commonalities demonstrate the ability of public murals to simultaneously unite community members and visually represent past or present social movements. Organizers are suggesting a $7 donation, and the film will be followed by a panel discussion on the role and importance of public art.

On Sunday, May 17 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m., the Classic City Chalk Fest will line up along Foundry Street for community members to make their own pavement pictures. Reservations for primed 10-feet-by-10-feet spaces can be made for $20 and include a box of pastels. The fest coincides with the grand opening of the Classic Center’s Sunday Center Market, which intends to host farmers, crafters, food trucks, live entertainment and kid’s activities each Sunday through October, excluding home UGA football game weekends. This week’s lineup includes 40 vendors, seven food trucks, live music by Weekend Getaway and Will White, a puppet show and a bounce house.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Athens Area Arts Council and Colors of Connection, an organization that leads art-based projects in underserved or oppressed communities across the world. Visit for guidelines, tips and registration.