CHALK-FULL OF ART; AT FAIR, STUDENTS DISCOVER ELATION IN THE CREATION.
Trinity Shawley was getting her hands dirty at the Ventura County Fair on Thursday.
The 16-year-old Ventura High School student was busy creating chalk artwork in the Youth Expo building - part of the I Madonnari art exhibit and attraction.
``I like hearing about what people think about the art,'' said Shawley, intently working on a picture derived from Neil Gaiman's book ``The Sandman.''
``It's fun, but also it gives people a treat - exposing them to art.''
Shawley, along with 30 other Ventura High School artists, has been busy creating various pieces of chalk art since the attraction opened Wednesday.
``This is a neat thing for kids to do,'' said San Fernando resident Margaret Munger, who was at the fair Thursday with her husband, Bob, watching the young artists at work while trying to escape the heat. ``It's nice to see students being active and actually doing the art.''
In its first year at the fair, the I Madonnari chalk-art exhibit gives spectators a chance to watch the young artists outline, sketch and color their works with the various shades of chalk being used.
``We've had people coming back here all day to see the progress of the paintings being done,'' said Youth Expo Superintendent Peggy Kroener. ``The exhibit is showcasing the kids working, which people have really enjoyed so far.''
Patti Post, an art teacher at Ventura High School for the past 23 years, helped implement the new program at Ventura High.
``We're here to demonstrate the art process and to bring art to kids who don't have much art exposure,'' said Post, who says art is a way of life. ``This takes passion and practice for my students and I, it's a discovery process. We discovered the benefits to being a creative human being.''
The I Madonnari art form originated on the streets of Italy, where artists used chalk to create works of art on the streets for public spectators, in celebration of the Madonna, says Post.
``Art is a way of self-expression for me,'' said 18-year-old Monique Dabbs, a recent graduate of Ventura High who was creating, along with her partners Monique Colasanti and Emily Vizzo, their own work of art: a ballerina holding a scale, an interpretation of the astrological sign Libra. ``It's a great creative outlet and way to express emotion and feelings.''
For 16-year-old Meagan Vallas, art can become not only a creative outlet, but an addiction.
``You kind of get absorbed by what you're doing,'' said Vallas, chalk in hand as she put the starting touches on her work, a scene from Shakespeare's ``A Midsummer Night's Dream.''
Since Wednesday, more than 20 works of art by the students have been done.
PHOTO (1--Color) From left, Monique Dabbs, Emily Vizzo and Monique Colasanti work on their chalk art at the county fair in Ventura.
(2-3--Color) A chalk work at the Ventura County Fair on Thursday bears the likeness of a certain dysfunctional cartoon family. Above, Trinity Shawley works on a chalk scene at the fair.
Phil McCarten/Daily News