Chalk: ‘Possibly the simplest tool you could ever make art with’

Chalk: ‘Possibly the simplest tool you could ever make art with’

Artwork by David Zinn

ANN ARBOR—David Zinn is a man on a mission—a mission to, via his chalk art demonstrations, inspire others to want to make their own chalk art.

“Which is why I like chalk art to begin with, because it is possibly the simplest tool you could ever make art work with, and it’s one which almost everyone has likely used at some point in their lives—ideally as kids, the age at which we are most confident about our own ability to make art,” Zinn said.

Zinn’s whimsical chalk art can be seen around the world, around Ann Arbor and on demonstration at the Ann Arbor Art Fair next week. 

Artwork by David Zinn

Artwork by David Zinn

“The meaning of art in this case isn’t just what you can buy and hang on your wall, but it’s what you can create in your own space, on your own time and in your own way,” Zinn said.

By the end of each demonstration at the fair, Zinn will have created a new character interacting with the streetscape of the city. And by the end of each day, visitors will have contributed their own doodles to create a colorful, dusty tapestry unique to the art fair, never to be seen again come the next rainfall.

Artwork by David Zinn

Artwork by David Zinn

Did Zinn study art during his time at the University of Michigan? No. But the “first domino” that led to what the artist does now did fall while he was living at East Quad. 

“East Quad being an old, beloved building, had chalkboards on the fronts of the dorm room doors that had been there since the ’40s and did not work as chalk boards, but more like ancient pieces of slate you couldn’t write on,” Zinn said. “In the middle of the night my junior year I went out and found a roll of chalkboard surface contact paper. … I ended up covering my entire door with this chalkboard surface.” 

There was a 10-to-15 year gap between that and Zinn actually taking his art to the sidewalks, but it is why he had chalk in his house when he first had the idea to go outside and draw on that fateful sunny day.

“Chalk the Walk” will take place 1-3 p.m. July 21 and July 23 at Liberty Street and Fifth Avenue. Sidewalk chalk will be available so that fairgoers can join in on the creativity and add their own mark on this year’s Ann Arbor Art Fair. 

Artwork by David Zinn

Artwork by David Zinn