At the Chalk Festival, a 70-foot-wide 3-D illusion painting of the Seven Continents showing the flora and fauna of each will be completed pre-event. A maze of large flowers will encircle the chalking area.

Chalk Festival: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Monday; Venice Airport Festival Grounds, 657 Airport Ave. W., Venice. Tickets: Early bird four-day unlimited pass: $23.80 online only. Friday: $5 for adults and students; Children younger than 12 admitted free with paying adult. Saturday: $10 for adults; $5 for students. Sunday: $15 for adults; $10 for students. Monday: Veterans admitted free; $10 for adults; $5 for children. Info: chalkfestival.org


One of the world’s largest gatherings of pavement artists will descend on Venice for the "Garden of Wonders" Chalk Festival on Friday through Monday.


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Founder and chairwoman Denise Kowal has big plans for this year’s event, including a massive reimagining of the 2014 Guinness World Record "Megalodon Shark" chalk painting. Artist Kurt Wenner is overseeing a redesign of the 3-D shark, which was recognized as the Largest Anamorphic Pavement Painting ever created.


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Thanks to a pre-event boot camp where local chalk enthusiasts were able to work side-by-side with artists on several pieces, there will be several finished pieces on display when the festival opens Friday.


"It’s such a gift to be able to spend the two weeks prior to the festival just creating," Kowal said in a phone interview.


The shark has faded over the years, like a well-worn vintage Florida postcard. Wenner, Julie Kirk and a team of professional artists are reimagining the iconic 3-D illusion painting, which is two football fields long.


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Artists are adding an illusion that will make the Venice Airport "disappear," Kowal said.


"We have artists flying in from all over the world to redesign it. It’s difficult," Kowal said. "We’re doing a few different features with it and the amount of paint that we use will be tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a huge undertaking."


In addition, a 70-foot-wide 3-D illusion painting of the Seven Continents showing the flora and fauna of each will be completed pre-event. A maze of large flowers will encircle the chalking area.


Artists who are competing in the festival will start on the traditional 12-by-12 chalk drawings on Friday, with all work being completed on Sunday. This year’s theme is "Garden of Wonders," offering a tribute to the natural world and the human imagination.


A massive red tide bloom forced Kowal to cancel the Venice Chalk Festival in 2018. The cancellation had a domino effect on chalk art gatherings throughout the world, as Venice serves as a launch point for many.


"It was a horrible thing because all of the events around the world pretty much balance around us," Kowal said. "When we throw our schedule off it throws off everybody."


This year, organizers are hoping the coast remains mostly clear of red tide. With cooler weather arriving before the event, huge crowds are expected to attend the art-focused event.


"We need volunteers. We need support," she said. "We’re 100 percent volunteer, so as much as people can support us one way or another, we need it."


The festival will have food and beverages available for purchase, and a Pavement Music Festival will provide live entertainment each day.


Spectators are encouraged to interact with the artists, who sit and lie on the asphalt to create stunning but temporary works of art. The beauty of Venice’s acres of asphalt is that the artwork can fade naturally over time, unlike when the event was held in Sarasota and the city required immediate removal by pressure-washing the streets.


Kowal said she is thrilled to be back in Venice, where the community and government officials have embraced the festival that draws thousands to the airport’s festival grounds.


"I feel like the Venice leaders come from a place of gratitude and that they’re your partners. Everything is done with that kind of attitude," Kowal said.


Pavement Music Festival


Friday


10 to 11 a.m.: Joey O


11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Kim Jenkins


2 to 3:30 p.m.: Jim Heald


4 to 6 p.m.: Rockadials


Saturday


9 to 10 a.m.: Stumble Creek


10:30 a.m. to noon: Rockadials


12:30 to 2 p.m.: Hatley Band


2:30-3:30 p.m.: Shore Dogs


4 to 6 p.m.: Maiden Cane


Sunday


10 to 11 a.m.: Sound Sisters


11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Scott Wilcox


1:30 - 2:30 p.m.: Browns Campbell Blues Band


3 to 4 p.m.: David Smash


4:30 to 6 p.m.: Rockadials


Monday


10 to 11:30 a.m.: Wanda Cook


Noon to 2 p.m.: Sunny Jim


2:30 to 4 p.m.: Rockadials


4:30 to 6 p.m.: Kim Jenkins


This story originally published to heraldtribune.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.