For the 13-plus years I’ve lived in Bellingham, Allied Arts’ Chalk Art Festival was a visual harbinger that let me know summer was in full swing.
Even after the amateur and professional street artists had put away their chalk and washed their hands, the remains of their creative endeavors stuck around on the sidewalks for as long as it took for the temporary masterpieces to be worn away by time, footsteps or, eventually, rain. For a while, at least, the streets of downtown Bellingham were that much more colorful.
Sadly, the longtime nonprofit was unable to secure sponsors for this August’s event, thus canceling what would’ve been its 20th year and leaving a gaping hole in the roster of activities—like Ski to Sea, the Deming Log Show, the Subdued Stringband Jamboree, and the Northwest Washington Fair—that remind people of just why they love to live in Whatcom County.
But do not despair, readers. In a collaboration with the Port of Bellingham, Allied Arts is now hosting what’s dubbed the Bellwether Arts Market every Sunday afternoon in August.
While it remains to be seen whether this new festival will seep into the collective consciousness in the many ways the Chalk Art Festival did, a glance at the roster of events happening during the remaining three weekends of the gathering shows it could be a real contender.
To start with, the setting for the art party couldn’t be more scenic if it tried. Located at the Tom Glenn Common on Bellwether Way, those in attendance will be able to soak up the sea breeze while looking out on the beauty that is Bellingham Bay. If it’s a clear day, they’ll also be able to take in the San Juan Islands, the Cascade Mountains, and the tippy top of Mt. Baker.
But, with 30-plus local and regional artists showing and selling their wares, rest assured that even if it’s a cloudy day, there’ll be plenty to look at. Painters, sculptors, photographers, glass artists, fabric purveyors and others will be on hand to share their art and answer questions, and there’s a chance you’ll even see some of them in action.
Befitting a community-oriented art fair, there’ll also be plenty to keep both little ones and big ones busy. Youth art activities will happen throughout the day—rattle felting and artists trading cards are on the roster for Aug. 12, while mask making, puppet creating and the making of mondrian squares are upcoming activities. Meanwhile, adults can peruse the art while listening to the likes of bandZandt, Swil Kanim, Badd Dog, Dana Lyons, and others.
“The goals of this festival are to both highlight our talented local artists and to bring locals and visitors down to our beautiful waterfront,” reads a press release on Allied Arts’ website. Sounds good to me.
While it remains to be seen if this will be an annual event, on the surface the Bellwether Arts Market seems to have the right ingredients for a successful summer arts festival. The only thing it’s missing, it seems, is chalk.
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