Art program ‘chalks’ up another win

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By Gray Kinch

The annual “Chalk Walk” is an event that celebrates high school artistic talent along with drawing attention to the importance of funding for educational art programs.

On March 22, Leon attended the event for the second time and won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for their recreations of art by famous Florida artists with their own personal twists.

Eight students from the Leon Advanced Placement Art program got into pairs and three out of the four groups placed in the competition. Senior Jack Wingate won third for his work with senior Rachel Smith, a piece that was inspired by Harold Newton. Newton was part of the group of African American artists, called the “Highwaymen,” who sold paintings of landscapes and Florida scenery door to door during the 1950s.

“Even though it was a competition,” Wingate said, “our teachers wanted us to remember that we are a team trying to show our best work so [the government] will consider more funding for these programs.”

The placement of the walk alongside the Florida Capitol Building is specific in order to draw wanted attention from government employees on their way to work.

The “Chalk Walk” was especially impactful this year because of the increasing cuts to arts programs around the nation.

“We are so lucky to have such a caring art department at our high school,” Rachel Smith said. “Not all schools are that lucky.”

Smith also described the event as a very encouraging experience and very inspirational.

“These kids have amazing talent,” Wingate said. “Yet schools don’t really support a path in art. High schools rarely present art as an option for a career.”

One of the most significant aspects of this collaboration of art students was the communication and support among Leon County schools.

“Everyone wanted each other to do their best,” Wingate said. “We just wanted to enjoy each others’ talent.”

“We all care about the art we create,” Rachel Smith said, “and because of that, we care for each other. It was a very powerful thing.”

Around fifty students from Leon County were in attendance and hope that their art will last until the Springtime Tallahassee Festival and will attract people to support arts programs throughout Leon County.