The sidewalks of the Napa Riverfront turned into a temporary art gallery Sunday as dozens of artists lit up the pavement with chalk masterpieces.
The inaugural Napa’s Riverfront Chalk Festival drew about 30 artists and thousands of viewers to the promenade that, for possibly the next week, will be home to original works along with sidewalk chalk copies of famous masterpieces.
“They’re coming, going, enjoying their day, and there’s at least three times as many people here than are here on a normal day,” said Jill Aills, of AugustineIdeas, which promotes the Napa Riverfront.
The event was held in conjunction with Arts in April to showcase local artists, raise money for New Technology High School and bring people to the Riverfront.
“We just want to make it approachable, let people know it’s OK to come down, hang out, have a gelato and sit in the courtyard at Napa River Inn,” Aills said.
While taking a break from chalking his piece, David Sibley, who used to work at a gallery along the Napa River, pointed out the big crowd at the first-time event.
“I’ll definitely be back next year,” said Sibley a first-time chalk artist. “There’s a lot of love out here and a bigger crowd than usual.”
Most artists showed up early Sunday to begin their pieces, but the event’s featured artist, Amy Gallaher Hall, started much earlier. Friday night, Hall made a grid for her original Napa Valley-themed piece and did a rough sketch. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, she chalked iconic images of the Napa Valley on the brick at the Fourth Street entrance to the Riverfront.
Sunday, she again worked from 7 a.m. to about 7 p.m. on the piece that included the Riverfront Promenade, a hot air balloon, woven baskets, vineyards, grapes, and, of course, a glass of wine.
Around the corner from her work was one by locals Victoria Froelicher and Bill Archambault. Their piece featured Chateau Montelena’s former owner. Jim Barrett, alongside his son, Bo Barrett, who is the winery’s current master winemaker and CEO. The older Barrett died last month.
“We wanted to do a little something for Jim and what he did for the Napa Valley,” Froelicher said.
The piece could also do something for New Technology High School. It was one of several done on plywood rather than concrete and will be put up for sale in the coming week. Some pieces may be displayed inside Riverfront shops before they’re sold, Aills said.
The proceeds will go to the school, which Froelicher attributed in part to the success of her daughter, who is now in her second year of college.
“My daughter graduated from New Tech and she said it is what has made her completely self sufficient and a grown-up,” Froelicher said.
The event, which also gave children the opportunity to create some of their own sidewalk art, could be back for a second year. Aills encouraged people to subscribe to the Riverfront’s newsletter via its website, NapasRiverfront.com, to stay posted on events like the chalk festival.
“As far as the tenants are concerned, I think they’re thrilled,” Aills said of the event. “The restaurants are busy, they’re all full, people are in the stores. We’ve had really great feedback.”