Confession: I’m a Chalk Walk Wimp

Amanda Shepard, Vice President and COO

As sure as the sun will rise and turn Main Street into a frying pan at the peak of an Indiana summer, FWMoA will, every July, organize the area’s largest community art project—Chalk Walk. In 2007, as a first-time and unpaid intern at FWMoA, I had the privilege of stepping in at the last minute to create the artwork for the square of the event’s lead sponsor. I was markedly more flexible, heat tolerant, and responsibility-free then, making me the ideal candidate to spend 14 hours on the baking pavement rubbing my fingertips away in the name of art. I haven’t participated since.

In the years since, I’ve realized I’m a Chalk Walk wimp, given the feats of physicality and creativity I’ve witnessed from people of all ages, abilities, and circumstances—many of them loyal to this event for more than a decade. This post is dedicated to all of you, the feisty street art enthusiasts of summer that give this favorite FWMoA event so much heart.

Meet Aarti Colglazier and Cary Fortner, two of these spirited chalkers that inspire me to step up my game a little.

How many years have you participated in Chalk Walk?

Aarti and I have participated in the Chalk Walk for 11 years now.

What does Chalk Walk mean to you?

Neither Aarti nor I are artists by trade, but we both love the arts and have since we were young.  Aarti and I went to high school together and both stayed in Fort Wayne for college. Then, I moved to Indianapolis in 2003 for a teaching job.  The Chalk Walk started out as a way for the two of us to get together and have fun.  After a couple years, we started working on our techniques and became fairly good (not exactly award-winning, but fairly good) at chalking on pavement. We both love the chance to do something creative and artistic.  We now include our husbands and even my 17 year old stepson chalks his own picture each year (this year is his 6th year). Our little kids aren’t quite ready for the long hours we put into our work, but they will also be involved in the near future!  It is not only a way to keep our friendship, but has now become a family event for us!

How do you prepare for Chalk Walk?

We have created a checklist of things to pack for the day(s)!  Each year I send it to Aarti and we go through it make sure we are prepared. We do internet research on what our image will look like and do some sketching to prepare.  And we each have a theme we have followed over the years! I always do an angel or a fairy and Aarti always does some kind of video game theme (most years it’s Mario-related because it’s our favorite video game). I’m the early bird and Aarti always arrives an hour or two or three after me the day of.

Do you make other art? If so, how does this differ from other art-making experiences?

My career is teaching 2nd graders, so art does not play too much of a role in that. I do some photography, sewing, and arts and crafts as hobbies. Aarti is a medical senior underwriter and has no art connection to work. So the Chalk Walk to us is our biggest art-making experience each year. We always text each other when sign-ups are coming and make sure we are both good to go for that year!  We look forward to it for months beforehand. And it’s an event we only miss if we are more than 7 months pregnant or just had a baby!

How do you feel throughout the weekend? How do you feel when you’re done?

Our excitement definitely starts before the weekend with planning our materials and art content.  Then we check in on Friday night and begin work early Saturday morning!  (This year I’ll be starting on Friday to avoid some of the mid-day heat on Saturday since I’m about 5 months pregnant).  We usually work all day Saturday, finishing about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  We love walking around and seeing everyone else’s work.  We are in awe of all the talent that comes out on this day!  It feels good to be a part of this art community.  I always brag to my friends back in Indy when I get done (not just about my work but about the whole event). I even share with my students each year to encourage them to be proud of their artwork (they don’t have to be professional artists by career to still love and do art).

Chalk Walk is July 14 and 15 this year, free to observe, and a brilliant, accessible spectacle of creative expression by the people. Major sponsors include Partners 1st Federal Credit Union, Steel Dynamics, Mad Ants, McMahon’s Best One Tire, PHP, NIPSCO, Sweetwater Sound and Chuck and Lisa Surack, Paint the Town Graphics, and Midwest America Federal Credit Union. We are ever grateful to these folks, the square sponsors, and all the participants that allow us to bring this event to the community.



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