Chalk the Walk



Monday: First Day on the Walk

A couple of hours before her dance audition, Desiree Carcamo, a first-year bioengineering major, began sketching and coloring her design. This is Carcamo’s first time participating in Chalk the Walk — an annual UCR event that allows for students to showcase their chalk art on the concrete walkway of the HUB Upper Plaza. Even though Carcamo is an aspiring engineer, she still does art seriously on the side, as shown by her public Instagram (@desireecarcamo) where she posts her art pieces. Carcamo shares an equal love of math and art and finds a connection between the two. “Engineering is a way to use your creativity to help people,” she shares.

This year’s Chalk the Walk, held from October 14-19, was centered around three themes: “Love is” (sponsored by the CARE office), “season’s greetings” and Scotty in costume. Carcamo’s original idea was to draw Scotty in a ghost costume, but she found that “too boring.” Instead, she started drawing Scotty in a pumpkin, and added images of a sugar skull, witch and candy. The sugar skull, residing on the upper left corner, is a nod to Carcamo’s Latina heritage. She tells me that her culture is essential in shaping her world view, “It’s not only your past, but it shapes your present. Appreciation is important but you got to start with your own (culture).”       

Two squares to the left of Carcamo, Maria Gutierrez began coloring her design.

Gutierrez, a fifth-year anthropology major, has participated in Chalk the Walk since her second year and won the competition twice. Her design is based on the Henry Selick classic “Nightmare Before Christmas,” with Scotty in a Jack Skeleton costume. “It was the first film I was introduced to, along with Edward Scissorhands,” she said.


Gutierrez enjoys meeting the other contestants who share her love of art and can relate to the frustration over her work getting run over by those passing by — while the area for Chalk the Walk is surrounded by tape and a tent, people still step on the designs. Gutierrez relishes in the shared experience of getting a chance to draw with chalk and seeing the delight of students walking by her work-in-progress.

One passerby took particular interest, asking about the event and Gutierrez’s work. After explaining, Gutierrez turned to me with a smile on her face and commented, “I forgot it was a competition.”


Tuesday: Walking on Chalk

Even with weather in the 90s, Gutierrez returned during her gaps and began covering the faint marks of footprints left on her purple sky. Gutierrez worries that the footprints are still visible even after blending and adding purple and black chalk. “I’m going to have to come back the day of competition to fix footprints,” she says.

As Gutierrez works on the eyes of the film’s famed character, Shock, a student passing by tells her, “It’s looking amazing so far.” This compliment makes Gutierrez “uncomfortable.” In the past, Gutierrez made an art piece for UCR’s counseling center poster but asked to not have her name shown and she usually uses a pen name for personal art pieces. Chalk the Walk’s focus on chalk art gets Gutierrez out of her preferred medium and the public display challenges her overall comfort zone.

Three squares down, a new artist puts down her bag, takes out a sheet of lined paper and begins sketching with a piece of white chalk on the concrete. The artist is Lessllie Real, a third-year pre-business major, and this is her second time participating in Chalk the Walk. Last year, Real won first place in the “Riversights” category, an experience that she described as exciting. “It’s always fun and you forget the work,” she adds about the event.

Her piece depicts two lovers on a justice scale stretching their arms out to form a heart shape. Describing the designs meaning, she offers, “You always want in a relationship what you want to give.”


Wednesday: Sun on the Walk

Judges observed the artists as signs were set up on both sides of the area to stop people from walking on the art. However, due to a scheduling mishap, tents weren’t pitched and the sun beat down on the artists.

The heat didn’t stop Justin Bragado, a fourth-year anthropology major, from working on his design. After competing for his first time in Chalk the Walk last year, Bragado returned to participate a second time.

This piece follows the theme of love as it features characters from “The Office.” “Love is all about caring about your friends and family. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is friendship,” he articulated.

“The Office” changed Bragado’s life. “I was going through a sad time,” he confesses, “And then, I watched ‘The Office’ and realized that things outside of work are important.”

To the right of Bragado, Hannah Way, a third-year microbiology major, stops by to fix her design: A grey wolf holding an autumn leaf in its mouth. Way found the image online and liked it so much that she recreated it on the concrete. She finished her piece earlier in the competition, but as one looks at her piece today, grey chalk marks spreading past the blue tape where a bike had passed through stand out. “It’s frustrating when you work really hard (on a piece) and now you have to fix a lot of stuff,” admits Way, who has participated in Chalk the Walk since her first year, and won twice in the past.

As Way continues to add details, people walk by and compliment her piece. “It’s like a self-confidence boost,” she says.

Way’s work would go on to motivate Samela Banks, a first-year music major, to join the competition. Banks would pass by the display and was drawn to Way’s wolf design. She officially joined at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Banks is used to paint but not chalk and looked forward to the challenge. “At first it was me competing with myself cause I’ve never done it,” Banks says. “Now it’s for fun.”

Her design is based on the story about the sunflower that rose from the concrete. For her, she sees love as that sunflower. “Love comes from unexpected places,” she says. A huge and vibrant yellow flower stretches over the concrete canvas as Banks colors it in.


Friday: Last Day on the Walk

Little purple boxes with “1st Place!” written largely on them were centered within the winning pieces. Gutierrez and Bragado won first place in their respective categories. Way won People’s Choice for the first time, fulfilling her goal going into the event, and an impressionist style piece by Michelle Nguyen, Vanessa Luu and Diana Del Castillo won Critic’s Choice.

While some people have walked through the pieces, most have stopped by to admire and take pictures of it.


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