Downtown is center stage tomorrow as arts in every form converge for Pleasanton's third annual Big Draw arts festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
From the chalk artists on Division Street to the skillfully decorated pianos at different locations on Main Street, the Big Draw celebrates art in all its forms while raising money for Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council's Arts in the Schools Grants Program.
"This year I'm really excited because we have six amazing professional chalk artists so we can really get to see what professional artists can do," said Jill Vellinger, who is event chairwoman for the third year.
The artists began to sketch out their colorful chalk art drawings on the street Friday night with three of them creating images that are 20 feet long while the other three are working in spaces that are 8 feet by 10 feet. Cecelia Linayao will return for the third year.
"She is just a great ambassador for the arts, and really engaging with people who come by," Vellinger said. "We place her at the corner of Main and Division Street. She has invited small children into her square while she's painting and explains what she's doing. What she creates is magical, and how she creates and shares is magical."
Local businesses and artists have purchased smaller squares for chalk art.
"It's a great way to do something fun with your family," Vellinger said, noting that sometimes a family will create a Mother's Day message and bring mom by the next day to present it to her.
Also returning this year is Artful Bouquets, floral art created to coordinate with a piece of art from the Fresh Works exhibit that is currently on display in the Harrington Gallery in the Firehouse Arts Center.
"They had 12 choices from which to pick," Vellinger explained. "They picked a piece of artwork to create a floral work that would embody that piece, in color or structure. It's really fun."
The five pianos that are part of the Big Draw went onto Main Street last week.
"A newly painted one was done by middle school art students from Hart. The teacher is Jane Maker," Vellinger said. "What's so cool about this -- another thing wonderful about art in general -- is that it hits on so many different levels, which is why it's so important to have art at the elementary school level."
"First they had to brainstorm about what they wanted to do," she continued. "They decided to do a world of dreams. So there's the creative aspect and giving voice to yourself. They also wanted to add words from different languages to show that we all dream; it's a common theme among humanity.
Then the young art students had to collaborate to figure out how to translate their small design onto the large piano "canvas."
"There is math involved and creativity," Vellinger said. "When people see a work of art, they don't really understand all the things that go into it, all the skills and thought processes that are developed when young children are challenged to do art. This is a perfect example of what this event is all about, really, it goes to support art in the schools."
The Big Draw will also have dance performances.
"Last year two Girl Scouts did an Indian cultural booth, and the henna was such a big hit that we're having another henna booth this year," Vellinger said. "We are celebrating a variety of art forms. And celebrating in a multicultural way."
Art teacher Rekha Joshi will be on hand to create rangoli sand art.
"This is an Indian art form where you have colored sand and make amazing designs through layering," Vellinger said. "This is on Division Street, and groups of her students will be creating chalk squares as well."
On Artisans Row, vendors are offering their handmade arts and crafts, a great chance to buy something for Mother's Day, Vellinger noted.
She encourages everyone to come downtown to celebrate art and the community endeavor -- and to support art in the schools.
For more information on today's Big Draw, visit www.the-big-draw.com.
Big Draw Contest
Cash prizes will be awarded for the best street chalk art by non-professional artists in the following categories:
* Best of Show Adult (21 or older): $200
* Phyllis Wentworth Award for Young Artist (13-20): $150
* Best of Show for a Team of Artists: $75
* Most Creative Concept: $50
* Best Use of Color: $50
* Best of Art Gallery Row (2-foot-by-2-foot squares): $25