Watch hundreds of artists prove their worth in chalk at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival

It was nearly two decades ago when Ken Mullen and lifelong friend Hector Diaz were first introduced to the art of street painting. Dubbed “The Chalk Guys,” the duo attended the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival and instantly became enamored with the fleeting nature of the canvas, which would inevitably be erased by rain and tire tracks.

“The artwork is temporary, which forces you to let go and enjoy the experience in the moment,” says Mullen. “Knowing that it will not last transforms the experience from strictly visual art into performance art. In the end, the value is not in the finished product but in the process.”

Since then, Mullen has joined hundreds of artists year after year, taking chalk to pavement to transform the city streets into a 3-D gallery. The event is the brainchild of a small group of local residents who, in 1995, pioneered an ambitious effort to revitalize their city. Among them is festival chair and artist coordinator Maryanne Webber, who attributes the event’s success to its interactive nature. “The artists perform their craft, and viewers are able to engage with them,” she says. “It creates a sense of active participation by the attendees.”

Art by The Chalk Guys, Ken Mullen and Hector DiazArt by The Chalk Guys, Ken Mullen and Hector Diaz

The featured artists who come from all across the country to paint the streets of Lake Worth, known as “Chalk Stars,” are carefully selected. They submit samples of their artwork along with a sketch of their proposed chalk creation, and those who radiate what Webber calls a “wow factor” are invited to attend.

One of those Chalk Stars is local artist Jennifer Chaparro, who has participated for 14 consecutive years and created more than 125 works of art at the festival. “I travel all over the world to street-paint,” says the professional artist and communications director at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta. “But it’s nice to do a wonderful event like this here at home. I always learn something new, and that’s what keeps me coming back for more.”

Known for her large-scale, 3-D, interactive pieces, Chaparro will be one of more than 600 artists at this year’s festival. It’s a guest list that includes some of the finest street painters in the world, such as California-based Tracy Lee Stum, who holds the Guinness World Record for the largest chalk painting by an individual and has been commissioned by the likes of Disney and Cadillac. With such talent on board, Webber says she expects record-breaking attendance this year and notes that the art will be complemented by live music, as well as diverse food and drink offerings from area restaurants.

As for the art itself, the Chalk Stars are staying mum about their plans. “I usually don’t share because I like it to be a surprise,” says Chaparro. Besides, it’s the anticipation of watching the images come to life before our eyes—and beneath our feet—that holds the magic.

Watch The Chalk Guys in Action