‘Chalk the Walk’ Festival: A Global Frida Kahlo Tribute

Catherine A. Jones
 | May 10, 2024

Every spring, the city of Mount Vernon, Iowa, transforms its streets into a canvas for the annual “Chalk the Walk” festival. As customary, the two-day event showcases the creativity and collaborative spirit of artists from all walks of life. And there’s always a theme featuring famous art and artists, like Romero Britto or Norman Rockwell. The centerpiece of this year’s 19th annual festival was a massive chalk mural titled “Frida Kahlo with Parrot,” a portrait of the Mexican artist originally created by artist Alina Dalinina from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. And it took over a dozen artists and art lovers to come together to create the one-of-a-kind global Frida Kahlo tribute on the street.

A Global Frida Kahlo Tribute

The chalk mural created at “Chalk the Walk,” measuring approximately 34 feet by 44 feet, paid homage to the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It was recreated live on the streets of Mount Vernon over a two-day period by dozens of festival-goers.

“It’s temporary art at its finest,” an event organizer explained.

Each artist, regardless of age or skill level, contributed by using pure pigment pastel chalk sticks to create an assigned 2-foot by 2-foot square of the temporary “Frida Kahlo with Parrot” mural. 

Discovering Frida Kahlo in the Ukraine

Dozens of festival-goers participated in bringing Dalinina’s painting to life. For this week’s Frida Friday column, we caught up with Dalinina, who lives hundreds of miles from Iowa, in Spain, to ask her about the inspiration behind her painting and all things Frida Kahlo.

NS: When was the first time you saw Frida Kahlo?

AD: I think Frida Kahlo has always been in my life, art life, as a phenomenon. 

I heard a lot about her, often saw her, studied her paintings on the Internet. … And one day, in my art store on Etsy, an American collector ordered three portraits of Frida at once. And, in order to paint the portraits truthfully, I began to study Frida’s biography. I wanted to know her better.

What did you feel at the time?

AD: I was excited about the order. After all, in the past, I was a lawyer and decided to change my profession at the age of 30. At that time, I still had little artistic experience, and I had just opened my store, and here at once were three portraits of Frida!

I wanted to create something beautiful, to show not only Frida’s external beauty, but also her strength, inner energy and personality! I think this was a good sign, because essentially my creative career abroad began with portraits of Frida Kahlo.

‘Fridom’ in Portugal

NS: Is there anything in Frida Kahlo’s work that’s given you insight into yourself or your own work?

AD: To be honest, I am a sincere Frida fan. Her talent, image, clothing style, love for accessories – all of this is very close to me and always inspires me. I watched all the films about Frida, visited exhibitions, read many books about this great woman.

Her ability to love, such great passion and vitality, the ability to express herself through creativity, to experience her greatest passions, pains, and fears in her paintings is amazing and inspiring.

In 2023, I had a personal exhibition in Portugal, which I called “Fridom” (the name combined Frida’s name with the word Freedom, for which Ukrainians are now shedding blood). … And, in September, I will go to Mexico City to fulfill my big dream – to see her house and studio.

‘She was smart and passionate’

What do you think it is about Frida Kahlo’s work that means so much to so many?

AD: I think for many, as for me, the power of creativity and life of Frida Kahlo penetrates into the very heart of her frankness with the viewer, her reality. After all, she remained herself in spite of everything: neither disappointment, nor constant physical pain, nor physical imperfection, nor betrayal … She gave her paintings all her feelings and all her pain. Frida was not afraid to be so frank in her expressions both in painting and in life.

She was stylish,talented, smart, passionate, and strong, despite her fragility and vulnerability. She is an example of how to love your life. How you need to burn with your creativity. And how to throw all fears into the furnace.

Where can Frida Kahlo art lovers find more of your work?

AD: I am pleased to invite you to my Instagram and my Etsy store!

All photos are courtesy of Artist Alina Dalinina.

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