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Fund-Raiser a Display of Local Color

Art: Wielding a rainbow of chalks, young artists from the Oxnard area take to the street to benefit after-school care and other children's programs.

September 29, 1997|LISA FERNANDEZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

OXNARD — Using the hot, black pavement as his easel, 14-year-old Edward Cruz crouched on his knees Sunday and rubbed his artwork--a giant Elmo face--with his palms to highlight the features on the character's red face.

"You've got to really smooth the colors over to get them to look defined," said his buddy and fellow artist, Philip Steele, a 15-year-old junior at Rio Mesa High School. "You've got to get inside all the cracks and crevices. I love working with chalk. It's bad!"

Children from the Oxnard area participated in the first "Chalk One Up for Kids" fund-raiser at downtown Plaza Park. The event included live music, puppet shows, face-painting and food sales.

Organizers said they raised $9,500, netting a profit of $2,100, through corporate donations and sponsorships of chalk murals.

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Parents or businesses sponsored murals, ranging from 2-foot squares for $7 to 8-foot squares for $100.

The bulk of the money--94%--will go toward after-school care for elementary students in the Oxnard School District. The rest will go to Boys & Girls Clubs of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, El Concilio Youth Club and Gull Wings Children's Museum.

For three years, Oxnard elementary schools have been hosting city-funded after-school programs for kids.

"We didn't know where they were going when school let out. We knew they were just going somewhere," said Supt. Bernie Korenstein.

Organizers said response to the weekend event was strong enough that they hope to do it again next year. Jones Intercable was the primary sponsor this year.

While most of Sunday's blacktop designs showed happy, colorful scenes, not all of the chalk art was lighthearted.

Adriana Aguilar, a 17-year-old La Colonia resident, watched as two friends sketched a mural of "La Llorona," the story of a woman who drowns her three children and then comes back to haunt her village.

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"I guess it's kind of depressing," Adriana said. "But it's a Mexican folk tale and it represents part of our culture."

The two Elmo artists, Philip and Edward, said they were glad that their drawing was going to a good cause. But in light of the warm reception their artwork received, they also wanted to be judged against their chalk-wielding contemporaries.

However, the event's sponsors said they purposely stayed away from competition.

"We wanted to focus on self-esteem," said Carol Flores, principal of Rio Lindo Elementary School, where first- and second-graders colored their squares mostly with yellow suns and bright rainbows.

"We wanted to see all the positive things kids do. To show that Oxnard kids do a lot of good things, and they have a lot of parental support."

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