After being ridiculed by her landlord for drawing in chalk on the sidewalk, a Hutchinson sidewalk chalk artist and substitute teacher has created a movement − Chalk the Town: A citywide sidewalk art festival.
Last month, Kara Vaughn drew several cartoonish pictures on the sidewalk in front of her apartment in Hutchinson. Her landlord was upset, calling the action disrespectful.
Vaughn, who teaches art at Hutchinson Middle School and is studying to be a math teacher, said she became fearful. She went to TikTok and was lifted up by the community. This gave her courage to keep drawing. The daily rain, however, continues to erase many of her creations, which are kid-friendly cartoonish characters. She said this temporariness works for her. She comes up with a new slate of pictures after each rain.
Not only did friends, neighbors and businesses contact her, but so did the Detroit Lions, Orlando Magic and Tootsie Roll Industries. She chalked pictures for everyone, but she does hope the Chiefs and the Royals contact her at some point.
“It’s fun,” she said. “People are asking for the Chiefs.”
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Chalk the Town – Hutchinson
After learning of her dilemma, the Hutchinson Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations got in touch with Vaughn and decided to create a two-day event, naming it Chalk the Town. Downtown Hutchinson and the City of Hutchinson have partnered with her to bring this community event to Carey Park.
The event will take place from July 1 to 2. The kickoff will be downtown, but the event will take place in the park. The organization is still deciding on logistics.
Vaughn will give demonstrations at this child-friendly event. There might be a scavenger hunt and other activities, including t-shirts and chalk.
“I have had so many local people messaged me and say ‘hey, you can come to my driveway and visit in businesses’,” she said.
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One day while teaching students in her art class, Vaughn realized it was the perfect weather to teach art outside.
“We (her middle school class) watched a YouTube tutorial on different techniques (of chalk drawing), and then I took them outside and we tested it out,” she said. “I went home after the end of the school year, settled down and then had the time to do stuff. I was like, you know, I really want to see what I can do with this. So that’s kind of how it (the chalk drawing) started.”
Eventually, Vaughn’s landlord apologized.
“Whenever I received my lease, she did write a message on the back that said ‘I’m sorry for any stress I may have caused’,” Vaughn said. “‘This is not an eviction notice. I’m not evicting you, I’m just giving you the lease you requested’. So she apologized.”
In addition to Chalk the Town, Vaughn wants to keep bringing beauty to the town she loves, which this weekend was renamed Smallville in honor of Superman’s hometown. In honor of Superman, Vaughn chalk-painted a picture of Superman, who is also known as Clark Kent the reporter, outside of the Hutchinson News on Wednesday.
“Hutchinson is cozy,” she said. “It’s a great place.”