Chalk artists hit the pavement as festival gets under way

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SARASOTA - The 5th annual Sarasota Chalk Festival is now under way in Sarasota's Burns Court. The first couple of days, the weather had made it difficult for the artists, with the winds blowing the chalk away as fast as they could put it down. But conditions were much improved Wednesday.

The 3-D artists are already hard at work, and there's lots to see even though the two dimensional artists don't start until Friday.

Admission is free, just take a stroll down Pineapple Avenue and watch some amazing artists at work.

The theme this year is Circus City, USA. Two different types of chalk art are going on there, and there are some twenty 3-dimensional or illusion pieces that you can interact with. "So it'll look like you're standing on top of an elephant, or standing in the palm of the hand of a clown," says festival founder Denise Kowal.

And there are about 75 two-dimensional pieces.

Some 500 artists are involved, many coming from all around the globe. Others, like artist Bryan Moon, are from right here at home. "First time I've done this. I'm an artist, but I've never done a chalk job. I came to see the show last year, and when I saw the artists and what they were doing, it blew me away. And I said ‘I've got to have a go at that’."

Kirk Wenner is called the ‘Father of Chalk Art’, and the originator of 3-D pavement art.

He and his team are busy creating a giant 3-D interactive painting. "Many people have only seen them on the internet, and some people believe they’re a hoax; that they don't reality exist. In this case, you can come on down and see that they really do exist and we are out here working on them."

His work has gained such fame, the Pope even requested one of his chalk paintings.

And not only will you be able to see amazing chalk artists at work, but you'll also get to see Nik Wallenda. The last time most of us saw him he was walking the high wire across Niagara Falls. Now he's coming to the Chalk Festival. He’ll be there Thursday at 4pm, and he'll walk right across a painting.

"This piece is a circus-themed piece with a high wire going from side to side, and we're going to have Nik Wallenda come by on Thursday and check the line so the knots are tightened up for the public to walk during course of the festival," says artist Anthony Cappetto.

The festival will go into full swing on Friday, with lots of live entertainment.

The 2-D artists have three days, from November 2nd to the 4th to complete their paintings. All the finished work will be on display to the public on Monday and Tuesday, November 5th and 6th.

The festival closes November 7th, and Pineapple Street will reopen to vehicular traffic after all those amazing chalk works are washed away.