- chalk drawing by Amy Doran
- Tomato, Pastels on the Plaza 2010
It's somewhat indirect, but the first Saturday in October is always a great day for children in Humboldt County. At Redwood Acres every year, a group of women called Humboldt Sponsors runs what may be the mother of all local rummage sales raising money to support recreation programs for kids. Bargains are guaranteed as is the fact that the money goes to a great cause.
Simultaneously on the Arcata Plaza, North Coast Children's Services holds Humboldt's biggest, brightest street art event, Pastels on the Plaza. The Farmers' Market moves out a bit and streets are closed to traffic as the sidewalks surrounding the square become a riot of chalky color, all in support of local preschool and recreation programs. This will be the event's 24th year.
The formula is pretty simple. As NCCS explains on its website: "Businesses or sponsors 'buy' a square for $100 or $200. Artists sign up. Some businesses and artists will agree to work together, but for the majority, we match up artists and businesses a few days before the event. We provide the pastels and a square of cement. At 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, artists show up to start drawing. After their art is complete, we host a reception for the artists and their sponsors at the Plaza Grill. Within a month both artists and sponsors receive a photo of their artwork to treasure for the next year."
The artists range from youngsters to established professionals. (For the last Pastels on the Plaza that including Duane Flatmo and Lush Newton, each declared "Best Artist" in Humboldt by Journal readers in successive years.) Some beautiful, but transient art is created. Watching the art happen is a delight. Come down Saturday and you'll see.
Full disclosure: When my now-grown son was six years old, I ran a summer recreation program in McKinleyville that was funded for the most part by Humboldt Sponsors grant money, much of it raised at the annual rummage sale. Earlier, before he went to elementary school, my son attended a North Coast Children's Services preschool. While I'm not exactly an artist, I have been filling a square with chalk markings annually ever since Pastels on the Plaza began.