‘Moments of Joy’: Windsor Locks Artist Creates Uplifting 3D Chalk Drawings on Library Sidewalk | Connecticut and region

WINDSOR LOCKS – Local artist John Montemerlo only heard about the sidewalk art movement a few months ago, but – after learning to create unique 3D chalk drawings himself – now lets his art accessible to all just outside the entrance to Windsor Locks Public A library.

He arrives at the library at 28 Main Street early in the morning, usually at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. – weather permitting – on Thursday and is finished by the time the library opens at 10 a.m. out of the box, see him squatting on the sidewalk, measuring and drawing. Most of the time, however, Montemerlo is alone with his materials and 3D creations.

“The concept of street art is that it is not here for long”, he declared one recent morning while drawing, in 3D, the “Red Chair”, which when finished seemed to be able to go up. on its summit and balance there. .

“This type of art is a fleeting thing, which people can appreciate in the moment,” he said.

Chalk the Walk events, where kids and adults alike draw on sidewalks, driveways and pavement, are held across the county. The hobby has rich historical roots dating back to 16th-century Italy, when artists made money traveling from town to town on public holidays to create their designs, and as a thank you, people made them. threw coins.

According to Robin VanLear, director of community arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the movement started with beggars – often amputees – seeking an edge over other beggars who gathered in the plazas and markets around cathedrals. . The more artistic began to copy portraits of the Madonna, VanLear wrote on the museum’s website, and became known as “Madonnari,” Painters of the Madonna.

Montemerlo, 76, and a longtime resident of Windsor Locks, makes his own 3D chalk from water, plaster of paris and tempera paint, a fast-drying medium made of colored pigments mixed with a soluble binder in water.

Measurements must be precise for 3D drawings, he said. It starts with a graphic and plans in advance where to shade, highlight, and apply color to find the right perspective that will create the illusion of depth.

For the “Red Chair”, which was 7 feet high and 2.5 feet wide, Montemerlo needed to widen the legs in some places.

“The report has to be correct,” he said of all the 3D drawings.

Montemerlo began studying art at the age of 13 with the late Harold Roberts of Windsor Locks, who exhibited a series of murals in local city banks.

Montemerlo also spent 10 years in Arizona studying art and is now working in his own studio on oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings.

He came to the library about a month ago when there was an art day for people to create chalk paintings. “I was the only one,” Montemerlo said.

Soon after, he volunteered to create sidewalk chalk drawings every week.

Library manager Gloria Malec regrets that more patrons are not interacting with the drawings or talking about them with others. She believes the COVID-19 pandemic may have helped people avoid contact with others and hopes library patrons will soon start to feel more comfortable with social interactions.

Malec said she came out of the library after Montemerlo created a drawing to ask people if they had seen it and, if so, what they thought about it. For the most part, she said people noticed the designs but didn’t know what they were.

“They turn me on to death,” Malec said. “I loved them all – one that was made up of giant piano keys, another a magic carpet trick that felt like flying when you stepped on it, and a body of water with icicles you could walk on. . “

If it’s possible to have a favorite, Malec said she would have to say for herself that it was the 3D drawing of a giant book from Montemerlo.

On Saturday, the library will organize a “Galaxy of Fun Fest – Mini Game Day” from 11 am to 12:30 pm for children of all ages to blow giant bubbles, play games, win prizes, meet Obi-Wan Kehobi, make a baby Yoda puppet – and watch Montemerlo create a 3D drawing they can interact with.

Malec emphasizes that the drawings are not just for children.

“They have a lightness, a lot of life in them,” she said. “It gives you a boost just to watch them. “

Libraries are places people can come for help, Malec said.

“John does that here too,” she said. “That’s what people need right now – times of joy.”

For more Somers and Ellington coverage, follow Susan Danseyar on Twitter: @susandanseyar, Facebook: Susan Danseyar, journalist.

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