Some of the world’s best chalk artists will turn the sidewalks and walls of Venice Island into a giant art exhibit Nov. 15-18.
The annual fall festival is a sister event to a chalk art show that originated and continues in Sarasota each spring. The Venice festival is about an hour’s drive from Cypress Trail RV Resort in Fort Myers, making Cypress Trail the perfect spot to camp while enjoying a day or more of sidewalk art, or even participating in preparations, if you choose.
Hundreds of artists will transform paved surfaces at the Venice Airport Fairgrounds with dazzling works of art over four days during this year’s Garden of Wonders Chalk Festival.
There’s a music festival on opening day, and an area where children—and adults—can grab some chalk and put their imagination to the pavement each day of the festival.
Chalk may be a 2-dimensional medium, but you’d never know it while looking at 3D pavement art illusions. The chalk renderings look startlingly 3D, seemingly rising up from or diving into the sidewalks, parking lots or walls they transform.
Each 3D illusion takes three to eight days to create. Some stretch 100 feet. The Venice show boasts the biggest single display of 3D illusionist chalk art in one place, according to the show’s promoters.
Kurt Wenner, an innovator in 3D pavement art, will re-create his Megalodon Shark, which appears to be jumping out of a broken pavement surface from water underneath—with a hapless human clamped within its monstrous jaws. The shark, depicting the largest shark known, has been drawn at chalk festivals worldwide.
Wenner also will re-create his 3Dimensional Illusion Environment, which employs perspective geometry that appears to defy the laws of physics. People and objects are visually distorted when they interact with Wenner’s creation—which includes vertical surfaces, all created with chalk. Water even appears to flow uphill in Wenner’s illusion.
This year’s festival includes the Garden of Wonders maze for humans that pays tribute to natural delights and the human imagination. It’s open each day and is included in the admission fee.
Young and Young at Heart is the daily feature that allows children and adults to try their hand at pavement art in a designated area. The festival will provide participants with chalk. It’s also included in the cost of admission.
The music festival on the opening day requires a separate ticket that admits music festival attendees to the chalk festival and Garden of Wondrs maze, too.
Food trucks will serve an abundant choice of refreshments, for which there will be a separate charge. Tented areas with tables will afford festivalgoers a chance to rest in the shade.
Some of the artists invited to create chalk art at the show don’t complete their work until the final day, so admission fees rise as the festival progresses. There’s plenty to see each day, and observing the artists at work as their creations take shape is an experience in and of itself.
Children age 12 and under enter free of charge every day. Parking also is free. Tickets are available online. On the final day, veterans are admitted free with an ID.
Here’s a guide to what you’ll see each day you can attend, and the admission costs for that day:
Friday, Nov. 15: Artists are working in their spaces, creating their works. Age 13 and over, $5. Pavement Music Festival, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., $25 (includes admission to the Chalk Festival and maze).
Saturday, Nov. 16: Artwork is half to two-thirds completed. Adults, $10; students, $5.
Sunday, Nov. 17: Artists complete their works throughout the day. Adults, $15; students, $10.
Monday, Nov. 18: All art work is complete. Adults, $10; students, $5; veterans free with ID.
If you want to be a chalk artist—or at least understand how it’s done—you can pay a fee to work alongside professional artists in the days leading up to the public showings. Tickets are required for a session at any of the experience events. Students may participate free but must fill out an artist’s application.
Participants get a T-shirt, art materials to use during the work, a program, admission to a Nov. 19 after-party, and an unlimited event pass.
Four experiences are available, with three-hour morning and afternoon sessions each day of the experience: