On Oct. 5 and 6, The Marketplace hosted the 15th annual Via Arte. The cement was covered in multiple colors, provided by sponsors, local artists and the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
Every year, the Bakersfield Museum of Art hosts the free-to-attend Via Arte which has local and visiting artists participate in drawing on the pavement (using chalk or pastels) on the southwest side of The Marketplace near Ming Avenue.
“[By] watching artists and children of all ages coming together for this one day and [you] see the comradery that happens between, not only the artist and participants but the viewers as well,” said Vikki Cruz, a Bakersfield Museum of Art overseer. “You see this kind of bond and this union between the artists that you just don’t see anywhere else.”
Via Arte took much preparation to clean and survey the area to make sure the artists had enough space to create their masterpieces. Artists began arriving early on Saturday morning with nothing but their skills and love of drawing.
The art of street painting originated in Italy in the early 1600’s and people still hold sidewalk-painting festivals in honor of them.
“Street painting festivals are all over the world and this event was developed by my predecessor,” said Cruz. “Every year it just seems to grow, we add more squares and we get more artists.”
Via Arte host many art enthusiasts from various schools around Bakersfield along with thousands of Bakersfield residents. Esther Sarrato, 24, the CSUB graduate, finally put chalk to pavement after years of contemplating participating. Serrato, who has been drawing and painting since she was five years old, was hesitant to join the street painting fun but was encouraged by family and friends.
“This is my very first time participating, I’ve been wanting to do it for about five years and I just never got the chance,” said Serrato. “And I finally applied this year and got in after a lot of people kept encouraging me to do it and I finally decided to give it a shot.”
Even though Serrato has a bachelor’s degree in English, she finds that art is a passion just like her major.
“Art is something, since I’ve been doing since I was five, that I always come back to. Via Arte is a place where we all can come together to do something that we like.”
Every year Via Arte features an artist and welcomes them to the event to participate in the street painting festivities. This year, Arte is featuring Cuong Nguyen, 43, who has been an artist for 30 years and chalk painting for 14 years, specializes in portraits using oil paints and pastels.
“I love the audience and showcasing my work, it’s all about showing your art to people,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen, who has a pretty impressive résumé, lent his skills to the pavements by drawing apiece called, “Biondina” by the artist Lord Frederic Leighton from the 1800’s.
Proceeds from the art squares and sponsorships go toward the Bakersfield Museum of Art programs.