The signature sidewalk art at Chalk the Block may be temporary, but the memories made at El Paso’s longest-running public arts festival are everlasting.

Chalk the Block returns to Downtown El Paso Friday, Oct. 11 to Sunday, Oct. 13 in Arts Festival Plaza. The free event now in its 12th year features temporary interactive art installations, live dance and theater performances, live bands, food vendors and movies in the Plaza Theatre. 

Chalk the Block has grown into one of Downtown’s signature annual events where thousands come to paint the town red – and every other color in the box of chalk.

Sidewalk masterpieces

While outside-the-box installations from world-renowned artists, live music and more have helped make Chalk the Block a family-friendly success, the heart of the festival remains the local artists who brighten up sidewalks with their creativity.

This year, 52 artists will participate in three categories: Student, Emerging and Showcase. Artists will create artwork on the pedestrian pathway between Southwest University Park and the El Paso Convention Center.

This year will mark El Pasoan Misael Armendariz’s third time participating in Chalk the Block. He won Best in Artists Showcase his first two years and says he – and at least two of his six children who lend him a helping hand – is coming for the three-peat.

“My two girls are showing a lot of interest in art,” said Armendariz, 39, a video game designer who got his start in art doing airbrush designs on T-shirts at shopping malls. “The first time it was just something to do and to see if I could get in. I brought my kids to help me, and they had a really good time. We won the division and we were exited about that, so we figured we would do it again the next year. We won again!”

Armendariz’s winning pieces depicted an angry rooster the first year and a Mexican bull rider the second year.

This year, Armendariz said he’s envisioning something even bigger and more dramatic – a dragon flying over a coastal cliff eating winged horses.

“It’s such a good thing to see something actually take root. It’s a tradition now and it gets better every year.”

More than chalk

Of course, what makes Chalk the Block even better is the interactive art installations, music, vendors and food.

This year, two large installations, Los Trompos and Red, White, Blue-Green will take over Cleveland Square Park and Arts Festival Plaza, respectively. Both offer an interactive experience and fun photo-ops.

If music is more your thing – especially music combined with art – Squonk Opera’s Pneumatica is right up your alley. The group has been seen on America’s Got Talent performing its “fast, funny and inclusive” art and music pieces. 

“When we started there were 12 artists and 5,000 people attending. We have steadily grown to include more than 200 artists, vendors and musicians and installations from around the world,” said Ismael Acosta, Museums and Cultural Affairs event coordinator. “This year’s festival will bring new and exciting guest artists and continue the high quality entertainment we have come to expect from Chalk the Block.”