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Chalk the Block celebrates its 10-year anniversary in downtown El Paso

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Chalk the Block’s 10th anniversary will feature artists from all around the United States, including New York-based artists Yoko Ono and Scott Cohen. which over looks the East side of El Paso.

The annual arts festival, Chalk the Block, returns to downtown El Paso beginning on Oct. 6 through 8 as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

The festival will feature over 200 artists from around the world, as they come together to decorate the streets of downtown El Paso through various artwork installations and turn it into an interactive playground for the weekend.

The festival is centered around the sidewalk chalk art competition that draws in thousands of spectators each year. The competition is divided into three categories, including student artists, emerging artists, and showcase artists.

Recent UTEP graduate Ociris Alvarez is one of 10 student graphic designers selected by their professors to have their posters sold at the festival.

“This is my first year doing Chalk the Block. I am honored to have my poster chosen,” Alvarez said. “I made a vintage-like poster that will be sold. A benefit to have been selected is that we get everything paid for, like the entry fees, expenses of the material and cost of printing.”

Each year, Chalk the Block features interactive and performance art installations made by artists from around the world, and they have become a crowd favorite.

This year’s installations include “Life Cube” by Scott Cohen of New York City, “Cycle Sonic” by Squonk Opera of Pittsburgh, and “Spheres of Influence” by Curime Batliner and Jake Newsum of Los Angeles.

“Wish Tree” by Yoko Ono, a New York-based Tokyo artist, will more than likely be the most popular interactive installation this year. Ono is famous for being married to the late John Lennon of the Beatles.

The “Wish Tree” will invite visitors to tie wishes on trees. After the festival, the wishes will be collected and sent to the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland. Imagine Peace Tower is composed of a tall shimmering tower of light that appears every year and is visible from Oct. 9—Lennon’s birthday—until Dec. 8— the anniversary of his death.

An installation that is sure to please the crowd is “Sun Metro Bus – Art on the Move,” curated by Kalavera Culture Shop, a locally owned store in downtown El Paso. The operating bus will serve as a moveable mural. During the festival, the bus will be used as a canvas by local artists to create a unique piece that will be added to one of Sun Metro’s existing routes for a period of time. This was last seen during the fifth-year of Chalk the Block and has been revived for the 10th anniversary.

Over a hundred vendors from the region will line up on the streets and turn them into an artisan market, where the public will be able to shop locally, eat locally and enjoy what El Paso has to offer.

Attendees will also be able to browse through a variety of food trucks.

The GECU Kids Zone will provide entertainment for the younger crowd and offer a space where kids can create their own sidewalk art using free chalk.

Last but not least, crowds will be able to enjoy live music performed by musicians from El Paso and Ciudad Juarez all day Saturday, while DJs will perform throughout the entire weekend.

This year’s artists include Sha’Vonne, Frontera Bugalu, Gila Monster, Fixed Idea, Sonido Cachimbo and Brandon Bailey Johnson. ENCO – El Conjunto Nueva Ola, a cumbia group from Mexico City, will headline this year’s lineup.

The first day of the festival, Friday, Oct 6, will be the soft opening and preview party. It’s also the day when the chalk artists begin the competition.

The El Paso Museum of Art will host “Art After Dark” in celebration of the 10-year anniversary. EPMA will be open until 10 p.m., and guests will be able to enjoy a vinyl DJ set from Atomic Wax and a pop-up art installation by Desert Triangle Print Carpeta: Mexican Prints.

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Elenie Gonzalez, Web Editor
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Chalk the Block celebrates its 10-year anniversary in downtown El Paso