Grand Rapids Chalk Flood Unites, Brightens Up Downtown

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Doesn’t this look happy? I just loved seeing the downtown sidewalks looking so bright and whimsical after today’s first-ever Grand Rapids Chalk Flood.

My daughters and I didn’t color the bricks pictured above, but we did haul our bucket of chalk downtown to join in the fun. We drew flowers and monsters and random designs.

The best part was watching the girls respond to the colored bricks above. We had just packed up our chalk and were headed across the street for lunch when they both reached for the chalk bucket and decided that they needed to stop and color in a brick, too. It looked fun, and they wanted to participate. I love watching my kids get inspired.

After a brief lunch break we decided to draw a little more. Abby, 4, wrote her name and drew a snail. I wrote “Make Aprons Not War” and drew an apron. Meanwhile, Amelia, 3, tried on my sunglasses and reorganized our chalk.

The beauty of this event is that the art quality ranged from Amelia’s scribbles to impressive works by local artists and everyone was welcome.

It was wonderful to get to see all the chalk art live and all mixed together in a sunny, open-air, urban setting. Say what you will about Grand Rapids, but the city really rocked today.

This is the first urban experiment organized by Rob Bliss that I’ve participated in, and I’ll definitely go to another one of his events. It was cool to see skilled artists working next to non-artists and the smiles that free chalk and an invitation to create inspired in the people who showed up. On our way back to the car we passed a woman blowing bubbles for the kids while a couple guys juggled nearby. And all around them hundreds of people were coloring the ground to the tunes a DJ mixed on stage.

Today strangers transformed patches of normally unremarkable pavement into a collective, visual wonderland and it was a pleasure to be a small part of it.

If you have any questions for Rob, the organizer, let me know because I have tentative plans to interview him tomorrow for the podcast.

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