WORTHINGTON — Artist Shawn McCann will be watching the weather during the Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival this weekend. As a chalk artist, a couple drops of rain could be detrimental to his work.
“It doesn’t work too well to do chalk art in the rain,” he said with a laugh.
Based in the Twin Cities, McCann creates temporary art work — including 3-D designs — on sidewalks with chalk.
Even if the weather is less than favorable, McCann said he hopes to be able to work around anything Mother Nature throws at him.
“If it rains, I’ll bring a tarp with,” he said. “You just have to try to protect it a lot and finish it up between sprinkles. Hopefully, we won’t have any issues.”
Gail Holinka, chairperson of the Worthington Public Arts Commission and member of the Regatta board, echoed his comments.
“You’d hate to see something like that get washed away right away,” she said.
Holinka first met McCann during a Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Artist Retreat in New London.
“I told him about how fun the Regatta is, and we talked about him coming down if it ever worked in his schedule,” she said. “We’re excited to have him come and be part of the event this year.”
McCann already has an idea of what he is going to draw in the 15-by 20-foot space allotted him for the Regatta Festival. After submitting a few initial concepts for the Regatta Committee to review, McCann settled on a design that he will create over a two-day period that reflects the Regatta’s theme: Rockin’ the Arts.
“It’ll be a street painting with the theme of the Regatta and music — a trumpet player on the bottom that has the effects of water shooting out of the trumpet to make the waves,” he said. “It should be a lot of fun to incorporate a lot of bright colors.”
“His design ties in the music and windsurfing and arts and the coming of the whole festival together,” Holinka added.
McCann will start Friday morning and said he anticipates being done Saturday afternoon.
“I’ll start by laying it out and doing the sketch and adding in the base colors and on Saturday I will be adding the highlights and bring it to life,” he said.
In addition to his sidewalk art, McCann also creates in other mediums.
“I do a number of different things as an artist – (illustrating) children’s books, murals, and all that,” he said.
His interest in sidewalk art happened by accident. Eight years ago after doing a fine art show, an admirer of one of his paintings asked if the painting could be recreated on a sidewalk. After that first experience, McCann was hooked and has been creating art on sidewalks ever since.
“I loved creating outside and the crowds and stuff with it,” he said.
As McCann started developing an online portfolio of his work, he got noticed by Art for After Hours, a professional chalk art consulting company that quickly became his agent.
While bookings for chalk artist can be “hit or miss”, McCann said he stays fairly busy depending on the time of year.
“Over the winter, most of my projects are down in the south: California, Arizona, Florida,” he said.
His work has taken him all over the world and just last year he was in Mumbai, India.
“You never know where a project is going to come up,” he said. “I do a lot of cooperate projects; festivals like the Regatta to cooperate events — whatever needs to be done.”
Unlike traditional artists who often work independently and isolated in a studio, McCann’s work allows him to interact with his audience.
“I get a kick out of seeing people reacting to the art being created. I love it when people come back over the course of the festival to see how things are progressing,” he said. “The most rewarding is — in South Carolina recently a little girl sat and watched me work for over an hour and a half. She had her mom bring her back on Sunday to show me the picture she had drawn after watching me.”
Inspiring people’s creativity is another thing McCann loves about his job.
“I love it when the kids or adults get excited and want to help with the picture,” he said. “It’s letting people have fun with it and revert to their childhoods and what they used to do on sidewalks with chalk.”
McCann and his sidewalk art will be located near the Sailboard Beach stage by the shore of Lake Okabena. Through McCann’s work, Holinka said they are hoping to enhance the art aspect of the Regatta.
“In the past, we’ve done permanent murals and works that have stayed in town but this will be a temporary way to enjoy the festival and the arts,” she said.
McCann said he is looking forward to coming to Worthington and sharing his art with the community.
“I hope to see a lot of people down there, and hopefully we’ll have some wonderful weather,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the festival. I’ve heard it’s a good time, and it’ll be fun to show them what I do, and to bring the street art to Worthington.”