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Norwin Region Arts Council takes 'Chalk to the Block'

| Monday, July 1, 2013, 6:00 p.m.
Irwin resident Katie Heuer creates a checkerboard pattern on a sidewalk in Irwin as part of the Norwin Region Arts Council’s inaugural “Chalk the Block” event to promote the Irwin Business & Professional Associatoin’s Art and Jazz Night on June 20, 2013.
North Huntingdon resident Gretchen Laux and her son, Neil Lonero, draw on a sidewalk along Irwin’s Main Street as part of the Norwin Region Arts Council’s inaugural “Chalk the Block” event.

The Norwin Region Arts Council took its message to the sidewalks of Irwin recently during its first “Chalk the Block” event.

The group began scrawling on the sidewalks two nights before the Irwin Business & Professional Association's Art and Jazz Night on June 20 to promote the event. Their chalk art continued during Art and Jazz Night in an effort to add a visual element to the music-dominated event, arts council founder Kathleen Heuer said.

“We wanted to have an activity accessible to everybody, that wouldn't require tons of volunteers, that would really enhance the night,” she said.

Heuer said the arts council took to Twitter, a social-networking site, to tell the public about “Chalk the Block,” and when volunteers would be on Main Street with chalk. Within 10 minutes, Heuer said, people began to come out and draw on the borough's sidewalks.

Soon, more and more people began to draw, Heuer said.

“It was cool to see the looks people had on their faces as they were drawing,” Heuer said. “After we were done, I noticed people walking slowly and looking down, as if they were in a museum art gallery.”

During Art and Jazz Night, the arts council made chalk available for attendees to continue making sidewalk art, said Gail Macioce, an Irwin councilwoman and IBPA member.

Macioce said the chalk art helped attract more people — especially families — to Art and Jazz Night.

“Over the years, we wanted art to be more involved with this event,” Macioce said. “This was really a nice touch and got more young people involved, while exposing them to the wonderful jazz musicians we have playing here.”

Heuer said the arts council plans to draw on the sidewalks again before the July 18 and Aug. 15 Art and Jazz Nights. She said she hopes to see “Chalk the Block” continue to grow and possibly serve as a promotional tool for more events in downtown Irwin.

“We had a lot of people who thought it was really fun, and it's something that everybody who participated was excited about,” she said. “It was just a really neat thing I wasn't expecting to do as well as it did.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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