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PHOTOS: Chalking It Up to Art (Updated)


The Atlantis Casino Resort Spa hosts the second annual Reno Chalk Art Festival Saturday and Sunday July 8-9. The artists are competing for a variety of awards including Best of Show, Best Use of Color, and Best Reproduction of a Master’s Work, among others.

Artists were busy Saturday on the hot pavement starting their pieces for Sunday’s judging. Each artist received a parking spot as their art space. A good-sized and ever-changing crowd mingled through the various pieces under creation, stopping occasionally to talk with the artist or take a photo.


A favorite was a commissioned piece by Michael Rieger out of Denver, Colorado, who with his team, came in early to create an interactive 3D piece. Kids and adults were encouraged to walk out on the visual illusion to have their photo taken on a rickety bridge suspended out a great height. Most participants feigned falling as they had their photo taken. While entertaining it also showed art appreciators what a finished piece looks like while competing artists focused on their works.

The heat was intense at 102°, if my car’s thermometer is to be trusted. Artists had to find ways of protecting themselves from the scorching blacktop. Some wore knee pads or used gardener’s pads, while others used less conventional systems including squares of carpets and wadded up clothing.

Patrons also felt the heat. Some even mentioned that they could feel the heat of the black top through their shoes and a few people had their smartphones automatically turn off due to overheating. This was mitigated with cold drinks and snow cones offered by vendors and two shade structures, one equipped with a misting system, set up by Atlantis.

A small stage featured live music with notably talented musicians including Jeremy Cornwall, a guitarist and vocalist who constructs songs on the spot, using no prerecorded material, by way of looping.

Inspired patrons have the opportunity to put chalk to asphalt in a large open area. Chalk was provided by the Atlantis and a surprisingly immense body of participatory art has already emerged.

Sunday Event Update

Work continued Sunday on the temporary masterpieces. After the public and judges had walked the lot and voted for the top entries, the winners were announced to applause and admiration from the crowd. I spoke with the winners of Best Reproduction of a Master’s Work and Best in Show.

Tammie Cox was awarded Best Reproduction of a Master’s Work for her re-creation of “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli. She explained that she had around eight hours of work on the piece. A Reno local, she said she was proud to be part of Artown and getting the chance to compete in her hometown.

Rabecca Haache received the award for Best in Show for her depiction of fly-fishing, something she and her family take part in regularly in Salt Lake City, Utah. Haache has been competing in chalk art competitions for five years but said that Reno was a great experience, mentioning the comradery of fellow artists. She said she plans to be back next year and expects to see a great expansion of the competition next year as well.

Still what to see the art? The good news is our gallery has images of every artwork, the bad news is it will all be power washed off by the time your reading this. And there is always next year.

Ty O'Neil
Ty O'Neil
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.