Chalk It Up was first established in 1991 through the hard work of local artists and community art supporters. As a non-profit arts organization, we are best known for the three-day chalk art festival held annually over Labor Day Weekend in downtown Sacramento’s Fremont Park. The number of visitors to this free event has grown exponentially over the last three years and is now hosting over 40,000 festival attendees. It is Chalk It Up’s mission to empower and support the next generation of Sacramento artists through targeted art grants for young artists and the programs that inspire them. We do this by awarding $500 mini grants through our Youth Arts Grant Program biannually, and by holding the annual High School Self-Portrait Show each Spring to showcase our region’s talented high school artists.
The Chalk It Up Festival, the grants, and the student art show are all funded and operated by generous volunteers, donors, community partners, and sponsors!
Street painting, using chalk as the medium, is an Italian tradition that is believed to have begun during the 16th century. It is called “Madonnari” because of their practice of reproducing the image of the Madonna (Our Lady). The early Italian street painters were travelers who would arrive in small towns and villages for Catholic religious festivals and transform the streets and public squares into temporary galleries for their works of art. The Chalk It Up Festival honors this tradition and celebrates the transient beauty of this medium.
The Chalk It Up Festival takes place on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Nisenan and Miwok people. We acknowledge the Nisenan and Miwok people who came before us, walk alongside us, and are grateful for their many contributions. We respect their many cultural landscapes and accept the importance of these places on the land. We recognize the past, present, and ensuing cultural bearers and stewards of the land and waterways we share and are dedicated to assisting and developing relationships with our Indigenous neighbors so that we have healthy landscapes and waterways for many generations to come.
We’d like to thank Steven Hutchason, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) in the Cultural Preservation Department at Wilton Rancheria, and Chalk It Up board member Sabrina Garcia for drafting this statement. To learn more visit wiltonrancheria-nsn.gov .
ABOUT THE CHALK IT UP CHALK ART & MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Chalk It Up! Chalk Art & Music Festival is a three-day celebration of local artists and the arts community — one of the last of the free, family-friendly festivals in Midtown Sacramento.
Since 1991, we have hosted a safe and clean festival at Fremont Park at 16th & Q Streets in Midtown Sacramento where the community can listen to live local musicians, patronize local craft, maker, and food vendors in the marketplace, and watch local artists turn the sidewalks around Fremont Park into colorful works of art. This is part performance art, as the artists are creating the work during the festival. Community members come from throughout the greater Sacramento Valley region several times over the 3-day weekend to watch the art work come to life. Kids of all ages are inspired after a walk around the outside of the park to admire the work of these professional artists, so we supply buckets of sidewalk chalk for folks to use to experiment on the interior walkways of the park.
The Chalk It Up Festival is a Sacramento tradition, a gift to the community, and with the help and and partnership of our generous sponsors and donors we’ve kept it 100 percent free to the public for over three decades!
ARTS EDUCATION GRANTS
Our Chalk It Up Grant Program offers grants to schools and organizations in need of funding for youth arts education programs. We fund mostly Title 1 schools on a biannual grant application cycle so that funding is coordinated with the Spring and Fall school semesters. Art departments in schools are typically underfunded. Chalk It Up Grants are often used to purchase much needed art supplies and while also allowing teachers and students to explore new mediums.
HIGH SCHOOL SELF PORTRAIT SHOW
Each spring we invited High School art teachers throughout the area to assign a self-portrait project to their students and submit the top 2-3 works from their class for this annual show. We sponsor a gallery exhibit for a month, and host a 2nd Saturday Artists’ and Art Teachers’ Reception that is open to the public. Local artists, educators, and the Chalk It Up Board judges the show and awards medals to the best works. NEW for 2023! A $1000 scholarship award will be given to the artist who wins “Best in Show.”
Board of Directors
Rocki Solis Nelson
“The reason I volunteer for Chalk It Up is because I remember how much joy that the festival brought my kids when we visited every year since they were young. I want every budding artist to feel loved, appreciated and supported by our community.”
“The Chalk It Up Festival showcases some of the city’s most creative artists & musicians. I look forward to working alongside this great team as we serve to fulfill the mission of the organization by supporting arts education and the next generation of artists.”
“Artists are the soul of any community and deserve everything we can give them to help them keep creating! I have volunteered in many capacities to help women, youth, and the arts. It is a privilege to be a volunteer, as organizations trust you with the work to be done.”
“What keeps me coming back year after year to the Chalk It Up Festival is seeing the love and amazement in the eyes of the attendees when coming across the chalk art. I’m very excited and thankful to be a small part of helping to create that experience for the community!”
“I LOVE people — ALL people, with ALL their quirks and intricacies (my children are 9 of my faves), and I have a passion for progress and learning, especially the creative growth and expression for all ages that the arts fosters. Volunteering with Chalk It Up gives me the opportunity to share my love and passions and to connect with our creative community!”
“Being of service to the arts community brings me so much joy. I am continually blown away by the hours our board gives to support artists, art teachers, and art students. It is an honor to work with them, and I’m proud to be a small part of the history of this wonderful organization.”