Artists chalk the street at the Middletown Art Festival

April 24—With a little chalk and imagination, the West Main Street of Middletown bloomed with color.

On Saturday, the city’s Coloring the Street art festival returned under sunny skies. Youths and dogs criss-crossed the road, which was closed to traffic, while artists transformed the sidewalk into works of art.

Cécile Madonna’s piece was an ode to the place she loves, but will soon be leaving.

“This is my tribute to Frederick,” Madonna said.

Shades of yellow, orange and red spelled “There’s no place like Maryland”. Yellow flowers surrounded the text.

Madonna, who lives in Frederick, came to Maryland from Pennsylvania about six years ago. She is from Lancaster County and is moving back to her home country because it is more financially feasible for her.

When she arrived in Maryland, she started out as a graphic designer. Madonna then painted murals in downtown Frederick, such as at Pretzel & Pizza Creations and The Common Market Co-op. She even started her own art business, Lola Love Letter.

She said she would miss Maryland.

“I really found my own creativity here,” Madonna said, a chalk streak visible on her cheek.

Saturday marked her third appearance at Coloring the Street. Madonna said artists submit sketches to Main Street Middletown and then are matched with a sponsor to be included in their art.

As she worked on her piece on Saturday afternoon, passers-by stopped to take photos and compliment her.

A stone’s throw from Madonna, Kace McField, a resident of Knoxville, drew a woman’s face adorned with purple, blue and pink flowers. Green leaves spread over the top of the woman’s head.

Under her neck, the words read “Hello Gorgeous”. It’s the name of the hair salon in Middletown where McField works.

McField’s creativity shines through at the salon, where she does makeup and nails. She also makes tie-dye shirts and dreamcatchers.

As McField added details to his drawing, some young people cautiously walked around him. Elsewhere on the street, young people collected chalk and added their own decorations to the sidewalk.

“I love the instant reaction,” McField said. “Especially the children.”

Children flocked to activities such as face painting and bubbles. Vendors lined the sidewalk.

Eight-year-old Awen Flickinger was attracted to three little goats from Caprikorn Farms in Gapland. She reached out to caress their fluffy faces.

Awen carried with her a notebook containing sketches she had drawn.

“She’s an artist,” said her mother, Erin Cohen.

Cohen said they traveled from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania so Awen could explore other expressions of the art.

“I got my hair dyed,” Awen said happily, sporting a thin blue streak in her hair.

A painting of a blue whale adorned her cheek and she carried blue Play-Doh with her. Awen shaped him into a whale.

Dozens of children lined up for the creations of balloon artist Mike John, who wore a rainbow balloon hat and sparkly vest.

Kristin Benante’s sons eagerly accepted the balloon animals. Their family moved to Middletown in 2019.

“They love it,” she says. “It’s like everything a child could want.”

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

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Reggie S. Williams