The city in chalk: a mural of life in the District

(This story was originally published on SHFWire.)

WASHINGTON – The sun is setting on a more colorful Connecticut Avenue overlook at Dupont Circle Monday evening.

After 8½ hours of work, Whitney Waller, 32, student at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, finished a chalk mural representing life in D.C. “It’s definitely a success,” Waller said. “If I had more time I would work on it more. I’m happy with the way it turned out.”

Waller had to stop drawing at 6 p.m., as required by a permit from the city.

The mural features landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial and the White House, andactivities Golden Triangle hosts, including Yoga in the Park. A paintbrush represents the partnership between Golden Triangle and the Corcoran that enabled the mural to become a reality.

Leona Agouridis, executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, called the first-time event a success.

The mural, which measures about 25 feet square, may be short-lived, however. Rain is predicted for later in the evening.

Waller said the impermanence of her work does not bother her.

“Nothing is permanent,” she said. “I think it’s funny when people are sad that it won’t last long. It doesn’t bother me.”

Waller said she had fun drawing the mural and would do it again if given the chance.

She began work about 8:30 a.m. to transform a portion of the gray concrete into a bright and colorful depiction of life in Washington, using Crayola sidewalk chalk.

The mural, “Explore our Neighborhood,” is part of a partnership between Golden Triangle, a neighborhood and business improvement district, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

“We have a lot of things here for people to enjoy, and we just want to get the word out,” Yolanda Woodlee, communications consultant for Golden Triangle, said. “So we thought, let’s put it in a mural on the sidewalk.”

She said the goal of the mural project is to draw people out of their daily routines to appreciate the area they live in. Some passersby stopped to help Waller draw.

Ed Moore, 50, of Washington, said. “It turns you into a kid all over again.”

Moore sat cross-legged on the sidewalk with a range of blue chalks next to his knee. Under  Waller’s instructions , he added “cloud-like” features – blue and white swirls – to the orange and yellow letters of the mural’s title.

An artist who works at an artist materials business, Moore came to the event after reading a flier about it.

“It’s a blast – it’s what makes D.C. different,” Moore said. “This is a big city with lots of communities. Taking time to be part of the community makes us better.”

For those more technologically than artistically inclined, Golden Triangle is hosting a social media contest for the best photo of the mural. People can submit their photos on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #exploregoldentriangle. The grand prize is a $100 gift certificate to use at any restaurant or store in the Golden Triangle district.

The neighborhood, a mile north of the White House, bustles with offices, coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques and includes densely packed row houses and apartment buildings. Part of Connecticut Avenue passes under the circle, and the sidewalk where Waller worked looks over the sunken part of the road.

Waller, who often works in chalk and has drawn other murals, also teaches at the Corcoran College of Art and Design.