Some people are inclined to say, “Chalk it up to experience.” But how about chalking up some experience in experimental art?
City officials are working with St. Charles Realtor Scott Nowling, who early this week presented his idea for an evolving, temporary art project that could change with each passer-by.
Essentially, Nowling would like the city to mount a chalkboard on a downtown wall, or perhaps on some kind of cube in the downtown area, where passers-by could scribble out their aspirations, their dreams and goals to share publicly.
Other communities that have hosted similar projects have invited people to share their “bucket lists” on wall-sized chalkboards with the heading “Before I die ...” with ruled spaces for people to fill as they walk past.
Nowling had proposed a chalkboard be mounted on a wall or perhaps on a cube of some sort in the downtown area as an art project whose face would change with each visitor’s written message. He said he would visit the project each day to erase anything profane or otherwise offensive.
City Administrator Brian Townsend said there are several locations on city property that are being considered for the project. Once a site is selected, the project could be tested on a 45- to 60-day trial basis to see what level of engagement is received, he told the City Council Government Service Committee on Monday evening.
Townsend added the city would reach out to the St. Charles Arts Commission, the organizers of Scarecrow Fest and other groups to ensure there is not conflict.
Nowling, of St. Charles, told the council similar projects have been tried in other cities, where people have written some inspirational messages on the chalkboards.
“This is an opportunity to share our aspirations and goals and dreams publicly … and perhaps inspire one another a little bit,” he told the aldermen. “I’ve left the proposal purposely vague to accommodate the needs of the city.
“As long as it stays up,” he added, “I would come down daily and censor this.”
Nowling’s brief presentation appeared to be well-received by the aldermen, even though they did have some concerns.
Fifth Ward Alderwoman Maureen Lewis, for example, noted that chalk gets messy when it rains, and wondered as well what would stop a person from taking the chalk and using it on something other than the art project — such as the side of a building instead.
After receiving aldermen’s blessing, Townsend said he will move forward and try to get the project up in the next couple of weeks.