Madden Chalk Art

A message of hope from Madden, a chalk artist from North Carolina.

As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the world, America's children found a way to brighten the day — positive messages in chalk on their sidewalks.

Fern Solomon, owner of Fern's Garden in Belmont Shore, decided a week or two ago to take that idea a step farther. She decided to bring the sidewalk art to Second Street.

Not on the sidewalks, though. Solomon's idea was to create posters using pictures of children's work, and put them in store windows — the windows of stores that have had to close, in particular.

"My 94-year-old Dad, Murray Sokoloff, who was the LB Unified school psychologist, always told us that kids are magnets to the positive," Solomon said. "That is why I am doing this. For kids, to see their work in store windows and to have something creative to do. For parents to share this on social to show off their kid's work. And mostly for me and my amazing team — it gives us work to do when truly we are dead in the water."

Solomon said she is collaborating with Dede Rossi, executive director of the Belmont Shore Business Association. The BSBA has offered to pay to print the artwork in a large format suitable for a window display, and Rossi will work to get the posters in the windows.

"I named it ‘Messages From Our Future,' because children truly are our future, and they're naturally positive," Solomon said. "This gives the children an outlet to spread their natural positivity to the rest of us in need of those messages from our future."

Solomon said modern technology will allow social distancing rules to be followed while completing the project. Kids go out and draw the art on the sidewalk (if chalk isn't available, youngsters can use anything to draw on a piece of paper), parents take a picture and send it to Solomon, who's art editor will prep it and send it on to the printer. Once the posters are delivered, Rossi will get them to stores to be put up in the windows.

A "Messages From Our Future" Facebook page will be created, and each piece of artwork will get its own closeup posted, as well as pictures of the art in store windows.

The deadline for submissions is Sunday, April 5. Images should be sent as a high-resolution jpg or tiff, and include the child's name and age.

To get involved in the project, either as a parent or shop owner, contact Fern's Garden 562-434-6425 or Rossi at bsba@belmontshore.org. Pictures should be emailed to info@fernsgarden.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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