Chalk It Up

Pasadena artist Gus Moran hopes to create a lasting impact at the ephemeral Chalk Art Festival in Palm Springs.

Michelle Enriquez Arts & Entertainment, Current Digital

Gus Moran kneels by one of his colorful chalk art creations. He will be among the professional artists at the Palm Springs Chalk Art Festival on March 16.

For the past 10 years, Gus Moran has created art on anything he could apply his piece of chalk to.

“Chalk art is [different] from any other form because of its temporary state,” the Pasadena-based artist says. “You take all this time creating a beautiful piece and after the event finishes, you have to walk away from it. Let the earth do what she wishes.”

Moran returns to Palm Springs March 16 for his seventh time to participate in the ninth annual Chalk Art Festival presented by the Rotary Club of Palm Springs Sunup. Judges will award monetary prizes ranging from $100 for honorable mention to $1,000 for Best in Show.

“This family-oriented event is like no other art festival in the city of Palm Springs,” says Kristin Bloomer, who chairs the Rotary Club’s foundation. The event is a fundraiser for art programs in public schools in Greater Palm Springs. Kids can let their creativity go wild in the “craft zones,” and everybody will enjoy the variety of food vendors.

Raised in Pasadena, Moran discovered chalk art 12 years ago while on a trip to his hometown mall. “I was with my children when we saw rows upon rows of art on the floor,” he says. “We were all so amazed at what we saw.”

Moran began attending Chalk Art Festivals in Pasadena after receiving encouragment about his creations. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Wow! This is amazing work!’ then proceed to tell me about another chalk art festival happening a town or two over.” His calendar quickly began filling with more chalk art festivals that took him beyond the California borders.

“I like creating hopeful pieces with a lot of color and popups,” Moran says. “Something that makes a statement. My art shows years of frustration, love, and hard work into it.”


Gus Moran's chalk art encourages his audience to engage with it.

Recently, Moran created a piece that was inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, “But instead of the traditional Starry Night I drew Popeye and Olive Oyl,” he says. Moran tries to find new ways to present timeless classics to a modern audience.

Moran also creates chalk art to help a cause. “ I have recently be working with ArmtheAnimals, which is a clothing company that gives a percentage of its proceeds to animal welfare organizations, and I have been inspired by them in most of my recent work,” says Moran, hinting that he’ll create an animal piece at the Palm Springs event.

Ninth Annual Chalk Art Festival, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 16 in downtown Palm Springs on Museum Drive. Free admisison. Information: To see more of Gus Moran’s work, visit