Chalk it Up! celebrates 20 years

Chalk art is ephemeral, but the Chalk it Up! event has staying power, celebrating 20 years this month.

Chalk art is ephemeral, but the Chalk it Up! event has staying power, celebrating 20 years this month.

Not unlike a culinary masterpiece, chalk art may be all the more breathtaking for its brevity. A gorgeous dessert will be gobbled up in five minutes, and pedestrian traffic plus summer showers will inevitably turn any sidewalk masterpiece into rainbow dust. But viewed in mercurial festival time, Narnia Studios’ Chalk it Up! endeavor has enjoyed an impressive longevity under the auspice of Narnia owner Barbara Hughes. The event turns 20 this year, a milestone marked earlier in the season by a May 27 chalk-mural staging, a YouTube video, and acknowledgement by several elected officials.

Some 150 artists across the age spectrum draw for prizes in an event that has come to symbolize downtown Hendersonville almost as much as Main Street’s whimsical bear statues. “I have been enjoying participating in the Chalk It Up! events for the past four years, and love doing it, although it’s a little tough on old knees and backs,” jokes multimedia artist Sandee Setliff, who offers an inspired tutorial of sorts for newbies: “What you plan on drawing is almost as important as bringing along proper padding to kneel on, paper towels to wipe your chalky fingers with, and a bottle of cold water. I plan on drawing a bear this year, since I love all things wildlife, along with the beautiful mountains of North Carolina in the background.

“I plan on continuing for as long as I can do it. It makes me feel like a kid again, playing with chalk,” adds Setliff.

“Although I sell my art professionally, this is something I do just for the pure enjoyment of it all. I love being next to children while they draw — they usually have a whole story to go along with their art. They’re as much fun to listen to as they are to watch, and they really rejuvenate the artist in me.”

“For 20 years, it has been a joy to bring Chalk It Up! to my community,” says Hughes. “Every one brings their ‘A” game when they participate in this event. I have watched children grow up — and grow into incredible artists.”

The 20th Annual Chalk it Up! event, sponsored by Narnia Studios, happens Saturday, July 16, beginning at 9am. 315 Main St. For more information, call 828-697-6393 or visit

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