Chalk it up: artist David Zinn returns to Laguna Beach

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The sky above was a cloudy gray, and although no rain fell on Saturday morning, puddles of color began to appear en masse on the sidewalk of Forest Avenue in Laguna Beach, as the children scribbled at chalk as they please.

David Zinn returned to Laguna Beach, entertaining dozens of people who took to the Promenade on Forest to admire the sights and sounds of the famous 52-year-old street artist at work.

Surrounded by an admiring crowd as he worked on a new piece in a tent, Zinn engaged in a relaxed back-and-forth with his audience, blurring the lines of artist and street artist. .

“If you’re going to draw in public, that’s strange territory because it’s a performance in the sense that you’re doing something in public that people can watch,” Zinn said. “It’s a very poor performance as there is no ‘ta-da’ at the end.”

David Zinn draws on the sidewalk of the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach during a chalk art demonstration on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

His audience might not agree. Many remained after the work was completed, posing for photos with the artist and his chalk-covered hands, as well as the flying pig he had pictured on the street.

The play itself was called “Pigasus,” a name Zinn said he incorporated after the kids told him that was the appropriate title given the pig’s aerial characteristics, much like the mythical flying horse Pegasus.

Zinn also entertained audiences with her wit, occasionally sharing anecdotes. At other times, he lightened the mood, like when a local resident offered him a break from his job with a drink.

“It’s a little scary because it’s runny,” Zinn joked, stepping away from her work to open a tin can to quench her thirst. “And it’s dust, and I don’t want them to come close to each other.”

One of David Zinn's fanciful street art figures drawn on a brick wall on the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach.

One of David Zinn’s whimsical street art figures drawn on a brick wall on the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

To relieve the pressure of his work, Zinn said he often viewed his designs as scribble or scribble.

“When you get there, it’s all doodle,” Zinn said. “Some things are more specific, but I’ve also met enough people who like to make marks in a way that I would find unpleasant, because it makes sense that we all have our own happy place.”

The event showed another side of the Promenade on Forest outside of the shopping and dining experience.

Zinn, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, came to Laguna Beach in 2019. He was due to return to town next year, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused those plans to be postponed.

Chalk and glove by street artist David Zinn at a public demonstration on the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach.

Street artist David Zinn’s chalk and glove at a public demonstration on Saturday.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“It was such a positive experience for people to participate that we got an overwhelming response to bring it back, and we are again now,” said Sian Poeschl, Director of Cultural Arts at Laguna Beach. “Businesses have supported him so much by allowing him to use their spaces and really change the way you look downtown for a while.

“It’s wonderful that we have these intergenerational activities and programs that the whole community can participate in,” Poeschl added.

A scavenger hunt invited people to search for 10 of Zinn’s creations in the city center. Those who located them were entered into a raffle to receive Zinn merchandise.

Monae Alyxe, 25, from Riverside came to the temporary public art event with her mother. She carried a notebook with her, writing down several points as Zinn spoke to her viewers while illustrating and coloring the Pigasus. Afterwards, she watched the little children continue to draw with chalk in the area.

“It also teaches our kids creativity,” Alyxe said. “The arts are taken out of our schools and children are not really exposed to this kind of play anymore. It is really important to foster creativity because if we want to move forward as a society, we have to be creative.

Tanner Upchurch is covered in chalk dust after drawing in the street on the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach.

Tanner Upchurch is covered in chalk dust after drawing on the street.

(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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