The Shops at Yale hosts sixth annual New Haven Chalk Art Festival Artists in New Haven gathered on Broadway Island and in front of the Yale University Art Gallery to partake in the annual chalk art festival. Words and photos by Chloe Edwards.

Jazz music roared as people maneuvered about. Spectators moved to get a better view of the art without accidentally stepping on it. What was once the red brick of Broadway Island, located at 56 Broadway, had been transformed into several colorful masterpieces made with sidewalk chalk.

Photos by Chloe Edwards

The sixth Annual New Haven Chalk Art Festival, hosted by Shops of Yale, was held on Sunday, Oct. 22. The fall-themed event took place on Broadway Island and in front of the Yale University Art Gallery. Featuring over 60 artists, the theme saw a variety of artistic interpretations. The grand prize for the art contest was a $1,000 gift card to Hull’s Art Supply store.

“I think [events like these] bring people together. [You can] meet people from all different ages and parts of New Haven,” Caitlin Gish GRD ’23 GRD ’26 told the News.

Photos by Chloe Edwards

The New Haven Chalk Art Festival was Gish’s first time participating in an art contest. Her chalk drawing, made right below the steps of the Yale University Art Gallery, depicted a flower and a mouse following a trail of crumbs. The background was a blend of pastel colors.

The inspiration for the piece came from a bouquet of flowers that she recently received as a gift.

“I love going to anything that has artists and vendors,” Gish told the News when asked about other community events in New Haven. “I love getting to see what local artists are making and selling. I love to get gifts for people that way too.”

The general autumn theme allowed for a range of artistic interpretations. Several of the designs took inspiration from iconic fall films such as “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” Others depicted ghosts, Jack-O-Lanterns, foliage and pets in Halloween costumes.

Photos by Chloe Edwards

Due to feedback from previous years, this year’s festival introduced a new division for beginner artists. Other categories included people’s choice awards for best team, best adult, best use of color, best photo rendition and best interpretation of the theme. The top three best overall were chosen by judge Raheem Nelson.

Nelson is a New Haven-based artist. He received his BFA in Cartooning from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Artist Maria Ma GRD ’26, won second place for the adult division. Ma was an art major as an undergraduate at Wesleyan. She focused primarily on oil painting. She is now a fourth-year PhD student at Yale studying Classics.

Ma told the News that her experience with oil painting transferred well to chalk, more for color and gesture than for manipulation of media. Her portfolio includes illustration in addition to oil painting.

“This festival is kind of my opportunity to do chalk art, which I’ve not done a lot of before. So I’m glad that this is a thing that happens” Ma told the News.

For her design, Ma drew a sleeping cat surrounded by leaves. The lively oranges, yellows and purples in Ma’s piece starkly contrast the gray tile of the Yale University Art Gallery patio.

One design technique that Ma used in her artwork is layering. On top of the blended background, there are outlines of leaves that add texture to the piece.

Photo by Chloe Edwards

The artists used a number of techniques to manipulate the chalk medium. One artist would wet the chalk by dipping it in a water bottle to give it a more paint-like consistency when applied to the brick.

While some artists brought brushes and tools for blending, others used their fingertips.

“I have no fingerprints [left] from rubbing [the chalk into the brick],” Zach Chernak, another artist, told the News.

Artist Alex Wong participated in the New Haven chalk art festival a few years ago and decided to join again this year. Her design was one of the photo renditions.

The photo she chose was one of her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend. The photo was taken on their first day back on campus at the University of Connecticut, where her daughter is a student.

To make the rendition, Wong decided to desaturate the photo. This resulted in a muted color palette of neutrals with pops of green and purple to highlight the details within the photo.

This year’s grand prize winner was Zach Chernak, now in his fifth year participating in the festival.

Like Wong, Chernak decided to do a photo rendition. The photo that inspired his artwork was one of his daughter holding an apple, taken shortly after an apple-picking trip.

Photos by Chloe Edwards

Chernak has been an art enthusiast since he was a kid. He began with pencil drawings and then progressed to charcoal, which he said lends itself naturally to a medium like chalk.

When asked how winning felt, Chernak said, “It’s great. It feels good.”

He described how he appreciated the community aspect of the event — working in a public setting that allowed for people to stop by and watch the work in progress.

The Yale University Art Gallery is located on 1111 Chapel St.

Contact Chloe Edwards at chloe.edwards@yale.edu