The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Chalk Fest’s Third Annual Event Kicks Off Pittsburgh RiverLife’s Summer Event Schedule

Chalk+Fest%E2%80%99s+Third+Annual+Event+Kicks+Off+Pittsburgh+RiverLife%E2%80%99s+Summer+Event+Schedule

Pittsburgh RiverLife kicked off its summer event schedule with the third annual Chalk Fest, which took place from May 25-26. The event occurred on the North Shore next to PNC Park and featured chalk artists from all over the country. Roads outside of the park, including Federal Street and Isabella Street, were closed down for the event. The event brought together members of the Pittsburgh community as both kids and adults excitedly admired the art.

The event was filled with food trucks, beverages and activities such as arts and crafts and, of course, chalk for the non-professional artists attending. The Pirates also had a game at the same time as Chalk Fest, and this game, while creating more traffic on the North Shore and making parking slightly more difficult, also brought many more onlookers dressed in black and gold to see all of the art on display. 

Matthew Galluzo, president and CEO of RiverLife, talked about what the organization is, its goals in general and Chalk Fest.

 “RiverLife is a 25-year-old organization. We work to create, activate and celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. That’s big investments in park spaces and open spaces, and it also, we found, has a big need for programming,” Galluzo said. “And Chalk Fest is one of those things. It’s in its third year, and we’re featuring artists from around the country, California, New York and everywhere in between.”

Galluzo loves this event for its vibe and character, commenting about how it brings people into the city. 

Along Isabella Street, artists worked on their projects in marked-off spaces throughout the day while spectators walked around them, admiring their work. The art pieces ranged from pop culture references and celebrities to Pittsburgh iconography or even just things personally important to the artists. Bright colors were used in a lot of the artwork, and many were made with a specific viewing angle in mind, which created a three-dimensional effect.

Erik Greenawalt, a.k.a. The Chalking Dad, started the event three years ago in collaboration with the RiverLife organization. Greenawalt has gained a following on social media through his chalk art and frequently travels for festivals as well as commissions.

Galluzo talked about how Greenawalt came to the organization with the idea for Chalk Fest and how the event has evolved over the past few years.

“[Greenawalt] had this idea to bring some of the folks that he has worked with across the country at chalk art shows to Pittsburgh, as [the city] hadn’t done it yet,” Galluzo said. “So, we did it at Southside Works the first year, and then we moved it [to the North Shore] because our offices are here and we thought it would be a really great addition to Allegheny Landing.”

A community chalk piece that anyone could contribute to was filled with many different colors, styles and designs. Both children and adults drew on the piece, which was a baseball-themed mandela.

Isabel Sichlau, a Spanish language and psychology rising senior, talked about her experience at Chalk Fest. 

“My friends and I like to draw on our sidewalk in Oakland, so it was super fun to see the real professionals work,” Sichlau said.

Sandy Forsyth is the artist that created the community mandela, and she specializes in mandela artwork and frequently uses the chalk medium. Forsyth came all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the event and expressed her love for the community-oriented pieces she frequently concentrates on.

Forsyth talked about witnessing community interactions and responses to her art. 

“I see community kindness, I see cultures interacting with other cultures. There are spontaneous moments of dance, there’s laughter and there’s connection in the community.” Forsyth said, “I think that community is inspired by art, and so I’ll often be asked like, ‘what inspires you or how does your practice happen?’ People kind of want to know how that works. I think that when art takes your breath away, and the inspiration, I think it inspires other people to, you know, be willing to try new things.”

About the Contributor
Quinn Cilea, Staff Writer
Quinn Cilea is a junior English fiction writing and film and media studies major with a minor in Italian. He loves watching Chelsea, playing soccer and rock climbing. If he’s not out doing one of these things, he’s probably working through his long TV and movie watchlist or working on a music playlist.