Growing up in Europe, sidewalk art was an almost daily occurrence. It was not at all unusual to see Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile glinting up at you as you exited the bakery or have the sudden necessity to skip over one of Titian’s voluptuous beauties as you switched busses at the main terminus downtown. For those of my readers unfamiliar with the world of sidewalk art, Julie Kirk provides a lovely introduction; she talks about the tools of the trade, the history of recreating great masterpieces on the sidewalks of urban landscapes, and other subject matter that is frequently chosen for depiction by sidewalk artists. And as might be expected, the book is full of gorgeous photographs.
I was very impressed by this book when I received it a year ago in e-format as a review copy from the publisher; however, I wanted to view a print copy before I put out a review. The print copy, I am happy to say, is full of high quality prints that do justice to both the original artwork and the chalk art versions. My children and I had a lot of fun with the e-format version, in that it allowed me to project the images up on our TV screen. As a homeschooling parent I used this book for a number of art lessons; the kids were fascinated by the style of the art, by several of the original works copied and the artists, and even by some of the cities featured. The book is not available in ebook format, but the print version is large enough to be used in a small class setting. For kids reluctant to learn art history, the originality of the chalk art is a great way to catch their interest. Our librarian admitted to me that while shelving my hold books she got side tracked for a good fifteen minutes looking through Sidewalk Canvas-she was impressed by the unique subject matter and eye-catching layout.
This is the type of book that just about anyone, young or old, will enjoy. Some will be interested enough to read it cover to cover, but the pictures are surely a visual feast that will be enjoyed by all, and I highly recommend it as a part of any art curriculum as a wonderfully original way to expose kids to the great masters, chalk art, and outdoor art.