Backs bent over, crouched to the ground, their fingers grasp the chalk as it smudges against the pavement. Artists have used chalk as their medium since the 16th century, throughout Europe and the United States, and this tradition proudly lives on in San Jose.

Katrina Loera, an art teacher at LeyVa Middle School, and her husband Steve Gordy, have been a part of the Luna Park Chalk Art Festival at Backesto Park for four years. They are chairing this year’s event, which takes place Saturday, September 24 from 10am to 4pm.

“I’m just a middle school art teacher who loves art and believes that through art we can make the world a better place,” Loera said. “I try to share that belief with my students.”

Lacey Bryant and Paul J. Gonzalez, both well known local artists, will also participate in the event, as will Cheryl and Wayne Renshaw, local architects/street painters who follow the chalk circuit year round, and Julio Jimenez, a Los Angeles-based street painter.

Each year, the Luna Park Business Association invites local schools to participate in the event and gives one art program a grant. At previous festivals, the organization has given money to Burnett Middle School, San Jose High, Hoover Middle School, Carolyn Clark Elementary and LeyVa Middle School. In addition, the festival provides space and chalk for free.

“So many schools continue to cut funding for their art programs,” Loera says. “This event is our attempt to bring the arts to our community, and we hope to be able to support many more schools’ art programs in the future.”

The festival will also be a meaningful day for the artists themselves.

“You know your artwork will only last for a few days before it’s gone,” Bryant says. “It’s a labor of love. And it’s a wonderful thing to be around other artists who are all there working against the clock and rubbing their fingers raw on the cement to make something amazing just for that moment.”

Bryant, who runs Kaleid Gallery in downtown San Jose, says she would love to see “more opportunities like this for artists to share their art with the community.”

“Our goal is to make the Luna Park Chalk Art Festival one of San Jose’s favorite city events,” Katrina Loera says. “With all the support we have received already, I think we are well on our way.”

Entertainment will be provided by Movimiento Cosmico Aztec dancers and the music of Cuatro con Tres. Handmade crafts and cultural foods will also be available for purchase.

More Info on the Luna Park Chalk Art Festival at Backesto Park