Right now, people are balancing a lot of thoughts and emotions, which can be overwhelming. Luckily, some of us can channel those creatively. The Bakersfield Museum of Art put out the call to encourage residents of all ages and skills to pick up some chalk and create.

The call to artists builds on a recent movement to "Chalk Your Walk," which has been popular with students and families locally.

"The movement Chalk Your Walk builds on words of encouragement," said museum curator Rachel Magnus. "We kind of latched on to that."

Last Thursday, Magnus took to IGTV to get the word out about the effort.

Magnus said the museum has a special connection with chalk art thanks to the popular annual Via Arte Street Painting Festival, which draws artists from all over the state for three days of creating at The Marketplace each October.

With 20 years of supporting artists recreating master works or designing original creations, the museum had a great starting point for the project.

Magnus said, "I sent personal emails to 10 artists so I could build an arsenal. ... That first email was greeted with overwhelming positive reception."

In addition to emailing, Magnus dropped off chalk for a few artists so they could get right to work. 

And they have. Linda Hyatt adapted Mary Cassatt's "The Child's Bath," adding a face mask on the mother bathing her child, who is washing her hands.

Yvonne Cavanagh worked on two pieces, one with her niece and one in front of her own home that she worked on with — from a safe distance — friend Alli Duncan, who is also the museum's development coordinator. Although she had originally intended to complete all four large sidewalk segments, she left the two in the middle empty.

She wrote on Instagram, "It’s at least 6 feet empty which I thought was fitting right now. So if someone wants to hang out with me on my lawn we can each sit by a colored square."

The Bakersfield High School instructor, who is teaching her art students virtually, said the chalk art and her pottery, which she has also been sharing videos of on social media, has helped balance the barrage of breaking news.

"Creating puts my mind in the present moment and calms my heavy heart," she wrote in an email. "So, selfishly, doing the chalk drawings and creating my pottery is helping my mental health. But sharing with others is hopefully giving them a tiny respite from the barrage of difficult-to-hear information right now as well."

Artist Victor Gonzales, who wanted to evoke happiness in viewers, took inspiration from Claude Monet’s “Bouquet of Sunflowers.” He said he would like to help people find a bit of light in these difficult times.

"We can’t all be out enjoying this spring season as a community but this is a reminder that better days are soon to come," he wrote in an email. "Plus, I really hope my post and work inspires others to get out, within reasonable social distancing guidelines of course, and draw on their sidewalk or driveways because creating art is very therapeutic."

Even Magnus got in on the fun, recreating Hilma af Klint's “Series VIII. Picture of the Starting Point." Taken with the female abstract artist's work, which she saw in a show last year at the Guggenheim, she took chalk to the sidewalk.

She said of the selection, "I'm personally passionate about female artists and, with it being National Women's History Month, it aligned with some things going on in the world right now."

All the works are being shared with the hashtag #bmoachalkyourwalk and artists are encouraged to tag the museum's Instagram (@thebmoa) or Facebook page (facebook.com/thebmoa).

With the community encouraged to continue creating, Magnus said she plans to reach out to more Via Arte veterans to keep the art coming.

Even now, though, the movement is gaining momentum.

"The participation I’ve seen so far has been impressive and infectious," Gonzales said. "As an artist myself this movement has definitely inspired me to get back to what I love doing."

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter: @realstefanidias.

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