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      Lee Co. sidewalks decorated with chalk art

      Young kids weren TMt the only ones getting creative at Lee County TMs Under the Oaks Art Fest.

      While children were enjoying arts and crafts booths, the adult crowd was outside creating art for the Sidewalk Chalk Art Challenge presented by the Leesburg Library.

      We've got a lot of creative people in Southwest Georgia and they're all out here making it happen while we're watching, says Charles Williams, an art professor at Albany State University and the judge of the sidewalk art competition.

      Kids create sidewalk art with chalk by tracing hands and using jumbo chalk by Crayola, but the artists Saturday afternoon used everything from artist charcoal, brushes, sponges and even charcoal from fireplaces.

      You have to use the water. It's hard on a sidewalk because it doesn't blend in very well so you have to push it in with the water and the brushes and your fingers, says Artist LaRae Kuusisto.

      Drawing with chalk on a surface like this can be challenging so the way they meet those challenges and create the colors and forms, says Williams.

      Artist Kellie Sapp walked away as the first place winner of the Sidewalk Chalk Art Challenge, winning $200. The inspiration for her winning tree frog drawing was her son.

      We TMre really into nature and science and tree frogs are his favorite. He had a pet frog that died so these are in memorial, says Sidewalk Chalk First Place Winner Kellie Sapp.

      Artists say it's not just about the competition: It's about the nostalgia, fun and love of the arts.

      Back in the days of records we had a record player in the basement. We had about three modern albums and then big 78s of the big band swing and that's what we listened to, says Artist Phil Maxfield. Louie Armstrong was a hero of mine so I had to come up with something this year and I thought, well, I'll draw Louie.

      Kuusisto came out not only with a will to win but also a will to have fun.

      My drawing is kind of like a humorous, scary monster thing. More like Bruce Colville Books rather than Steven King, Kuusisto says. My boys wanted to know if I was going to win and I said, 'Eh, probably not, but I'll be giggling the whole time.'

      At the end of the day, fun was the goal of the Under the Oaks Art Fest.

      I had a lot of fun. It TMs a good creative outlet because I have three small children and I don't get to do stuff like this very often so I was glad to come out, says Sapp.