UNBLURRED: Thomas Merton Center & Wellness

Friday 4 December 2015

For this one I went down to the Thomas Merton Center on Penn Ave. in Garfield, a section where galleries and shops stretch for a few blocks.

Once a month this street has an open-studios event where people come to look at art, meet the artists, hear bands play, drink wine, and sneak a few moments away from the certainty of impending doom.

The Thomas Merton Center invited me to participate in the theme of “What does Wellness look like?”  Several artists brought installations and work showing their take on “wellness.”  For me it is self-explanatory — healthy body, surrounded by good people, and harmonized with the greater Whole in which we live.  The chalk circles symbolize all this very nicely I think, and I had a great time doing it.

When I was done I went for a walk to check out the other galleries.  My favorite gallery is definitely Spak Pizza but the art I liked best was the bellybutton display.

Somebody took pictures of hundreds of bellybuttons and printed them onto little circles of paper 1cm in size.   The exhibit consisted of a small table with hundreds of bellybutton circles under glass.  From far away it appeared to be a collection of buttons that go on shirts but nobody makes hairy buttons.

Some bellybuttons are round and some are like a slit, and some are collapsed onto themselves, and other ones just seem flat.  I tried to look at my own but I had my shirt tucked in and it was cold out so I didn’t go digging.

I could talk about bellybuttons all day but back to the chalk.  As usual these circles employ the Phi ratio and the best part is tracing people’s hair.  Hair is so expressive.  And you can forget about tracing a bellybutton, there’s just no way to do it.  Might even lose a piece of chalk in there.


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Bloomfield Farmer’s Market: solar power sound and a people-circle

I brought my camera with me to setup sound for a ZeroFossil gig at the Bloomfield Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  The first photos show the connections from the sun through solar panels, 12volt battery backup system, power inverter (DC –> AC), then normal mixing board audio stuff.

After the music got going, I saw there was a box of chalk near a picnic table, for children to draw on the pavement.

A-ha!   Steve springs into action.   Made a quick little circle about 2m in diameter.  Not the most precise flower of life I ever did but then again, it was on rough ground with a lot of foot traffic all over the place.  Friendly people.

It always amazes me how people react.  Some people walk right through, stepping on the circle and not paying any attention, as if it wasn’t there.  Other people walk around it carefully.  Other people yell at their kids and get angry saying, “DON’T STEP ON THE DRAWING, WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, BE CAREFUL!”

The oblivious seem innocent and they do no damage to the drawing.  The ones who yell at their kids end up disturbing me more than the people who walk through and keep going.

Anyway that doesn’t matter.  It was a lot of fun and we got a bunch of people involved tracing bodies.  Ricky the giant started us off, then we drew a few pre-teen girls whose Dads were playing the music for us, and a few little small kids picked colors and lay down to be traced at the end.  Grandmothers love it!

My favorite part is tracing people’s hair.  It’s hard to draw hair with a big fat chalk so I go way around it and interpret the shape by exaggerating the lines and curves.   When the person gets up and sees what I did they always laugh and say “MY HEAD IS ON FIRE” or something.  Then the next person wants me to draw their hair and make it even more crazy.

Unfortunately it is hard to get good pictures of the colors under direct bright light.  The best time for photographing chalk art is not always the best time for meeting the people.

If these keep getting bigger I’m gonna need a camera-drone to get good overhead shots!

Thanks to everyone who was involved, see you next time.

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Chalk On The Water in Reston, VA

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Hi everyone, Steve Knots here.

Welcome to all the new visitors who we met over the weekend!  I do chalk art as a side project when I have some down time between performing music, working as a sound engineer, and setting up solar-powered events in the Pittsburgh area.

I came down this weekend to visit family and be a part of Chalk on the Water at the Lake Anne Plaza in Reston,  VA.  Since I work in the circular format, I decided not to enter the competition for prize money, and instead did this piece as a donation to the festival.

I’ve been planning this piece for a while now and I was very happy it worked so well.  It symbolizes Earth with all the world’s people around it, connected by a thin blue line.

My favorite moments were outlining the very pregnant Brenda (the audience loved this),  doing “exploding hair” outlines with the girl scouts, and becoming a many-armed octopus.

Thank you Sue for the balcony view!  We saw some really talented artists doing great work around us, including the absurdity of the pet cat dressed up in a costume and riding in a “Pink Cat-illac.”

HERE are the drone pics from overhead, thanks to Modern Reston and Alejo Pesce of Flutterphoto.


In the evening Melissa and Jason at the new Lake Anne Brew House gave us a little preview of their brewery, reviving us with cold watermelon and A/C.  We’re very excited to support them when they open, and apparently so are many curious locals who stopped to ask for beer.

Finally, a plug for my fundraiser:  I’m doing chalk art and other exciting things as part of a crowdfunding project to raise money for a trip to Croatia, where I will play music at Goulash Disko Festival next month.

Please visit my fundraiser page HERE and take a look at the Art and music you can receive as gifts when you donate.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in making this happen, we had a great time!

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Reston warmup

Going big with a Weber grill lid, warmup for the weekend in Reston, VA with the Chalk on the Water Festival.

Excited to meet the folks at Lake Anne Brew House, thanks for inviting me down.

This piece was done in hot weather so we made a jar of sun tea and used the center to keep it safe while we rapped the grill lid down around the perimeter, measuring out circles.

Mint leaves from the overgrown mint patch at the edge of the driveway.

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Twin Giants

This one is in the garden at my Mom’s house, we did it just after sunrise in beautiful morning light.

The location is in between a maple tree and an oak tree, both more than 75 years old.  The last photo shows the trunk of the oak tree, it is more than ten feet in circumference.  Basal diameter probably four feet, this tree is gigantic!  I love the little plants living in the root well.

This one started as a small circle which grew larger and over-ran the brick area.  The spot where we ran out of space approximately lined up with the tree trunks, although this was not planned.

Just another cool little alignment.  Also note the circles in the outer ring, these are nice big ones that we made using the lid from a charcoal grill.  Anything round can work!

Flowers are from the other parts of the garden, a few feet away.

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at arms’ length

inspiration for this art:  
once again, waiting at a tram stop and I noticed that the bricks under my feet were laid out in fan-shaped curves that intersect and overlap.

Why this pattern?

It comes from the shape of our bodies and our working limits.  Kneel on the ground and try to draw a long straight line — you can’t do it very long without moving your body.  But if you draw a curve, you can cover a lot more space without moving.  The shape of the curve shows the length of your arm.  You can comfortable draw almost 90 degrees of a circle without moving.

For men working all day with heavy street blocks, that is the limit of their working range, and so that dictates the pattern of the sidewalk blocks.  Sometimes you can see this pattern in the street with cobblestones too.

I framed in the sides and outlined a few fan-curves.

At the end, this is funny, some women were waiting for a tram and we had a ridiculous exchange.  I was busy photographing the art when they arrived.  I wanted to bring some people into the picture so asked them, “Can I take a picture of your feet?”

The woman wearing black shoes answered, “Do you have a foot fetish?” HA HA HA HA!

She didn’t realize that it was me who had just drawn the chalk.  So I showed her my chalk and explained what I was doing, and we all laughed, and you can see the rest in the pics.

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every hexagon is a cube


inspiration for this one:  On the way home from entering the tunnel portal, I waited at Palmovka for a tram.  I noticed the sidewalk blocks were hexagonal instead of square or rectangular.

Suddenly I stopped waiting and did some art.  Two or three trams went by as I chalked in the hexagonal sidewalk tiles, and to me it felt like only a minute or two had passed.

Time stopped.  An old woman with a cane looked and said one word, “hezký”…  two young women sat on the bench smoking cigarettes and smiled at me when I looked up.

I am telling you, people, we have the ability to change our flow of Time.   You’ve heard the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  That is close to the point but it is not the whole point. Of course you can not change the rotational speed of the planet, but you can very dramatically change your own experience of the speed of time, and that’s what matters.

In the same way that a hexagonal perimeter line can pop into 3D, and assume the form of a cube, TIME can pop out of clock-lines and into a single moment of neverending eternity.

I sincerely hope everyone will join me, the old lady, and the two hot chicks in this perfected moment of the now, because in truth, there is no other moment than Now.

We’re all gonna be here sooner or later.

(Legal Disclaimer: No hexagons were harmed during the making of this art.)

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Tunnel Portal

inspiration for this one: The tunnel is round, circles are round… ok let’s do some art.

This was outside Peter’s Burger Pub in Karlín, where Marc Cram and Tommy Trumpet were doing an acoustic set for cocktail-hour.

This was my first time visiting them.  I found large windows wide open to the street, friendly people, interesting interior construction, crazy promotion posters that look like a graphic novel, nice sound…  AND REALLY GOOD FOOD!

And more, it stands on a quiet corner where you can sit outside and enjoy the summer air…  what more do you want?

Big thanks to all the cyclists who made a nice curve around us while we were drawing in the street!!  Not like the autos who hunt for parking spaces like sharks.

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This gallery contains 39 photos.

What is there to say… I went out yesterday morning to get coffee and milk, came home walking along the river and I noticed many colorful flowers, wildflowers, all of them, growing where they city workmen mow everything down once … Continue reading

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How To Make Friends with your Local Police Dept.

Apparently the main drag is the wrong place for street art.

I had big plans for this piece but its destiny was to fall short of the mark.

By the time I realized that my enraptured audience was a police officer and not the two cute girls who were there a minute ago, he was already recording me on video.

I wish I had a copy of THAT footage.

As usual he tried to get a confession by asking me, “What are you doing here?”

I gave him a full promotional message instead, smiling, pointing out my work, and pretending I was on TV.

“Oh, I am making some art, it is a gift for the city, I only use chalk so it does not damage anything, and the spring weather will clean it away in only two or three days.”

My loving and gregarious open-ness of course inspired a sympathetic response from the uniformed authority.

Together we enjoyed several minutes of intimate sharing, where the officer inspected my ID, got my digits, took very careful notation of everything, and leaned in close to whisper his secrets into my ear.

“You are finished now,”

he told me,

“You can not paint all over the city without permission.”

Flutter flutter flutter beats my heart…

To think, now I am famous with the city administration.

They love me; this is clear.  They show their love by lavishing me with the undivided attention of a salaried employee!  What luxury!   I would not trade this precious moment for all the boxes of chocolates in the world.

To think…  for nearly 30 minutes the local officials could find nothing more important to do than devote themselves to watching me, using state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, turning me into REAL LIVE PERSON OF INTEREST,

and not only that,

but recording my intentionally temporary efforts, immortalizing them for posterity in a brave attempt to bypass the creeping hands of TIME,

those with an unbreakable grip that devours the iron-clad works of genius and idiocracy alike.

What a patron.  How unselfish!  I blow kisses to the entire city administration which has given me the gift of attention, focusing the laser-beam of their unlimited municipal eye on me, multiplying the dynamics of my work a thousand-fold, all paid for by the precious resources of the nation’s capital.

I gush.

If this is the worst crime to occur on a Monday evening, I am forced to wonder if the criminals and degenerates of the area might not somehow be able to ramp up their nefarious black corrupt evil and despicably unholy activities, not just for their own personal advancement, but also to ensure that local law enforcement doesn’t wither away and die of boredom & neglect.

I mean, think of all those bullets and nobody to blast?  An empty jail is the sign of an empty tax coffer.

notes: if you look closely at the columns on the front of the National Museum you can see lighter patches where bullet holes were plastered over.  The flower shot is from decorative bushes growing around back of the museum where the junkies shoot drugs and drop dirty needles constantly.  Don’t ask me why they are refused the loving adoration of les gens d’armes.  Maybe because they naturally exist just beyond the limits of tourists’ auto-focus.  Probably that.

kudos: thanks to the French government, the entire EU railway network including but not limited to Schengen zone countries, Ukrainian Sonja, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Louvre Museum, for joining their efforts and supplying me with the oversized memorial collector’s coin which I used to make all these little circles.

End note:  no police officers were harmed during the making of this post.

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