Middleboro chalk fest celebrates artists of all abilities

May 18, 2024

MIDDLEBORO — With chalk in hand, Jake Tower’s tremors disappear. 

Tower, 30, makes street art and was one of the 30 participants who came out to the second annual Chalk It Up Art Festival on May 18 at Town Hall in Middleboro. 

Chalk It Up is put on by The Heart in Art, a Middleboro-based non-profit whose mission is to make the arts accessible to all, according to studio owner and festival organizer Melissa Oddi-Morrison. 

And that’s exactly what Saturday’s chalk fest accomplished. 

Jake Tower came out to the arts festival to introduce people to his work and show them how his art is unique, he said. 

“I have hand tremors. But when I sit on the ground and do this, it doesn’t show. They don’t come out.” 

Due to the rain, the event migrated from its original location in the town hall parking lot to the town hall ballroom, where artists drew on black sheets of paper with chalk. 

Tower braved the rain however and successfully transformed a section of the town hall parking lot into a maze of colorful circles and smooth, curved lines. 

Those who chalked it up inside made the town hall ballroom feel “warm and sunny and full of happiness,” said Oddi-Morrison. Proceeds from the event went towards supporting The Heart in Art. 

Inside, drawing a picture of a character in a book she plans to write was Lauren Riccardi. She is the festival’s “featured artist,” said Oddi-Morrison. Riccardi has autism. 

Drawing with chalk was a good way to “try something new” and to get to know her character Macy better through a different medium, Riccardi noted. 

Others who showed off their dexterity with chalk were Eric Dean and his daughter Jolene, along with Dean’s sister Natasha O’Connell and his niece Reese. The group’s Kung Fu panda movie-inspired chalk picture was a last minute idea tested out on the driveway the night before, said Dean, who said he loves to use art as a way to take holiday celebrations to the next level. 

A word hidden in Jake Tower’s labyrinth of swirling lines encapsulated the message of the day: “love”– for all artists, regardless of ability. 

The day’s winners included Brandon and Lucia Sukeforth, who took home the Heart in Art Award for their creative skills and for their kindness. Brandon Sukeforth gave away the bike he won as a raffle prize to another participant, said Oddi-Morrison. Other winners were Lauren Riccardi, Jake Tower, Alexandra Nihan, Elias and Clara Roustom for their drawing called “Two Birds” and Bridget Cox for “Be Happy.”