Chalk art brings kids’ books to life

Arturo Gomez Molina
Assistant Editor

A slight breeze and 52-degree weather did not scare away families, students and artists from getting up before dawn to participate in Pomona’s 11th Annual Chalk Art Festival.

The event kicked off at 7 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m. Shaun Diamond Plaza drew 250 students and artists sitting on the ground, getting to work on their masterpieces.

“We wanted to focus on the students and young talented artists in our own community,” Joshua Swodeck, mayoral representative of the Pomona Cultural Arts Commission, said. “There is a lot of spirit and talent in Pomona and we wanted to highlight that.”

Swodeck was joined by Catherine Lin, city of Pomona senior planner, and Denise Marquez, District 6 representative of the Cultural Arts Commission, to help facilitate the festival and make sure everything ran smoothly.

The theme of the festival for everyone was to create something inspired by “Wonder,” a book written by R.J. Palacio, or their favorite book.

Many students took to the pavement and created famous book covers like “Charlotte’s Web,” and “Winnie the Pooh” and more modern-day children’s books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

“Our daughter has been drawing for about six years now, mainly caricatures, but she loves to draw,” Pomona resident Melissa Heredia said. “We’re happy to bring her out to be with her friends and to meet other artists who share her passion.”

Heredia said she and her husband are both musicians and are happy to see their daughter find her niche in the arts as well.

The Cultural Arts Commission had a contest going on through the festival with multiple judges walking around looking at the art work.

The artists could win in the potential categories of best use of color, best theme, most creative concept, best use of material, most artistic team and a separate category for the professional artists.

Volunteers around the plaza helped participants with materials, water and anything they needed.

To the participants’ and the commission’s surprise, four Helpful Honda people showed up to show their support the chalk art festival.

“We are here to do what we can to help out the artists, the families and the people running this event,” Helpful Honda person Karla Marin said.

“We will be passing out water, sunscreen and lip balm to as many people as we can to make sure everyone is having a fun and great time today,” she said.

Marin and her three colleagues sat down to help a student finish their Pokemon inspired art piece.

As the festival continued the sun rose higher into the sky, dispersing the clouds, the temperature remained relatively cool.

“We started the festival so early because we wanted the participants to stay cooler throughout the day,” Marquez said.

“It makes it easier for the students to focus and we don’t have to worry about anyone feeling overheated or dehydrated,” she said.

Marquez said they planned the festival for that specific day to coincide with the monthly Pomona Art Walk was also happening.

“There is going to be at least 3,500 people coming through here tonight and it is going to be a great sight for them to enjoy during the art walk,” she said.

The board members of the commission said if the artwork was done properly it should last a couple of weeks on the pavement without fading away.

They hope that this leaves Pomona residents with something to enjoy and take pictures of when roaming downtown.

Arturo Gomez Molina can be reached at

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