The Best Part of My Week


Yesterday we went to the North Market for Via Colori, a chalk festival. What? you say. A chalk festival.

I first attended this event in 2003, when one of Columbus’s main arteries was closed for repairs. I’m sketchy on the details because we had just moved here, but for two days in September of that first year, before the highway reopened, local businesses “commissioned” local artists to create chalk masterpieces on the yet-unlined roadway. “Commissioned” because all the proceeds went to Columbus Children’s Hospital, if I’m not mistaken. It happened in our neighborhood at the time, and so we went. I was floored. I had no idea that chalk could be so precise, so vivid.The next year, the event had to be moved, of course, since I-670 was now open to gads of traffic. The ambiance wasn’t the same, but the art was as astounding.

I don’t know what happened to the event after that, but this year, a smaller, cozier version was held at the site of the city’s best farmer’s market. We took Evan and Quinn, the awesome kid we hang out with (Brian does Big Brothers, Big Sisters).
We gave Quinn our old digital camera to use (and I kept the other one) and set him loose on the festival to take pictures, play in the rain (now there’s a lesson in impermanence — rain at a chalk festival), and eat whatever he wanted (he refused cow’s tongue, available at one of the delicatessens at the market, but indulged in some truly excellent chocolate).

It was heartwarming, being there with him and Evan and Brian. I felt so inspired by all the art materializing before my eyes. It’s so cool walking through in one direction and seeing the chalkworks in progress and then walking back the other way and seeing how much has already changed. I also felt inspired by the people around me. The artists, but also the families with kids running around. It made me feel good about the world and about people in general. It made me glad to see people in the market spending a little extra cash on artisinal breads, organic meats, handmade chocolates. It made me happy seeing all the homegrown vegetables and flowers. Oh the flowers.

It was really fun being there with Quinn, too. He’s nearly eight and at this age where he’s still mostly unselfconscious. He’s a video game kid, loves movies, and has only recently started enjoying reading. Seeing him there with that camera, though, it was like this whole other kid was emerging. We got to see him seeing. We got to watch him look for good scenes, frame his pictures, and then flip the switch on the camera to review his work. We got to see the festival through his eyes, and that was really cool. When we first arrived he was hesitant and a little bit bored, but as he moved around and took more pictures, he became more and more interested in everything around him.

The power of art. The power of creating art. The power of looking at the world through a poet’s sensibility, a photographer’s eyes.

It was definitely the best part of my week.

But at the same time, it was just ever so slightly bittersweet. Because while I was just bursting with the feeling of community — all this friendship and all these families whose kids are allowed to run and shout and eat raspberries by the quart — I also felt a little bit left out. We don’t live in the city, we live fifteen miles outside in a place called Blacklick that has a post office and nothing else. No town government. No town center. No sense of place or community. Within Blacklick we live in a large condo community where all the units are pretty much identical and folks don’t go outside much.

I crave community. I crave creativity. I want to hang out with all those people I saw yesterday, to learn from all those artists. I want my children to run and play and have fun with those kids and I want to spend all my Saturdays at the market running into people I know.

I want to buy those flowers each week, savor those chocolates. I want to chalk my own parking space, just once.


4 Responses to “The Best Part of My Week”

  1. 1 Christina

    We were at the first one, when they decorated the as-yet-unopened 670. It was really cool. My husband’s parents were involved in the organization of the event, and several of his “aunts and uncles” (his parents are hippies) were artists.

    We love the North Market. They have an excellent Indian place there – Flavors of India. And yeah, the chocolate is great. We’d shop there more if we could afford it.

    I know how you feel about living outside of town. We’re on the edge of Grove City, and there is no sense of community in our new-build subdivision. I wish there were people we could hang out with here.

    Your pictures are beautiful. Did Quinn take any of those?

  2. 2 Toni

    That sounds like so much fun. Great pictures!

  3. 3 Anonymous

    I love the North Market, too. It’s decidedly one of the best perks of living down here.

    If you have a chance before summer’s over, you should check out the Worthington Farmer’s market. It’s on High Street up in Worthington, and it’s AMAZING. So many vendors to choose from!


  4. 4 Julie

    Yup, Quinn took the top two. I took the ones of him, obviously, and I think I took the last one of the festival.

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