Street Painting Festival Returns to Downtown Lake Worth Beach
LAKE WORTH BEACH — The Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival was back on Saturday after a year-long layoff, and it looked like the town’s signature event had never been absent.
Less than an hour after the free chalk party kicked off, throngs of visitors filled the jammed downtown streets to see hundreds of artists drawing colorful, multi-dimensional works of art on the sidewalk.
“Every year I look forward to this because it’s a chance to show people what you can do,” said Oscar Lopez, a heavy metal enthusiast formerly from Pompano Beach, who was chalk drawing a drawing inspired by ‘Iron Maiden. “Every time I come here I have a blast. It’s fun to be back.”
Lopez, like most of his fellow artists, did not attend last year’s event after the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to go online.
The Street Painting Festival, started in 1995 by a group of volunteers, is a fan-friendly event with visitors getting the chance to interact with the art and artists, so holding it virtually last year was better than nothing , but still disappointing for its participants and patrons.
Sarah Gay of West Palm Beach and Melinda Gallant of Boynton Beach have been festival partners for 16 years, including last year when they used Gallant’s Driveway as a canvas for the online event.
They were back in their rectangular plaza on Lucerne Avenue on Saturday, working alongside the same group of artists they had drawn with for many years.
“It’s like a nice reunion for everyone because we haven’t seen each other since COVID started,” said Gay, who spoke as Gallant chalked out a picture of a woman. wearing big glasses while squinting a fly on his nose. “It feels like a little sense of normalcy doing something we all love to do.”
If the pandemic has been bad for adults, it may have been worse for kids who haven’t been able to do the things kids love to do for over a year.
This includes participation in the festival, which has traditionally contained a large student component.
Erica Bordonaro, an art teacher at Wellington Elementary School Fine Arts Academy, has been taking her students to the festival almost from the start. On Saturday, she was overseeing 10 members of the school’s art club drawing a series of joint panels dominated by original anime artwork.
“The experience is amazing because they don’t realize the power of art until they see this,” said Bordonaro, an elementary school teacher for 25 years. “It excites them.”
Some of his former students returned as adults to tell Bordonaro that they worked at their own place nearby.
“It’s really cool,” she said.
This weekend’s festival was the first under the city’s control, which took over management after the nonprofit – Street Painting Festival Inc. – which oversaw the event was voluntarily disbanded by its Board of Directors in April.
Several long-time visitors said they saw no change from previous festivals except for more food vendors than usual. No one complained about it.
“It’s just a fun day to see all this creativity, all this talent,” said Denise Griffiths of Port St. Lucie, who was in attendance with her sister-in-law. “It’s beautiful. I’m jealous.”
Judging by early Saturday crowds, this weekend’s attendance may not be far off pre-pandemic festivals when an estimated 100,000 people showed up. This year’s edition will continue on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Palm Beach’s Beth Fischel has been attending for years and said the event has “been getting busier every year.”
That didn’t stop Fishel and his mother Blanche Ginsberg, 90, from being there Saturday.
“We come every year because it’s a natural thing for us,” said Ginsberg, a resident of suburban Lake Worth. “We love art.”