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Chalkmaster Dave!

By Chalkmaster Dave
Story by Jennetta Keizer

It's been over a decade since Chalkmaster Dave was a fixture at the Spring Garden Road Memorial Library.  On May 19th, he returned to Halifax to kick off his "Chalk the Nation" tour, at the corner of Dresden Row and Spring Garden Road. 

Since then, he has crossed the country, including stops in Toronto, Vancouver, Grand Bend, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg.  The plan is to return to the East Coast in the late summer, and wind up his tour in PEI, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

I headed down to the corner of Spring Garden and Dresden Row, and had the opportunity to interview the Chalkmaster while he was here in Halifax.  

JK: So, what's up, Dave?

CM: My cholesterol, but I've been working on it by eating a lot of vegetables…and lots of walking… I lost 20 lbs!

JK:  Right on, dude! 

CM:  But yeah, we're in Halifax for the Chalk the Nation thing. I'm telling' ya, first day of this, ah, little chalkumentary, is very inspiring ... It's gonna be tiring, it's gonna be stressful, there's probably gonna be days I'm gonna wake up and go this f*$#-in’ sucks, but, when you start off on such a positive note, it's gonna be a lot easier to keep the scene positive and just keep going.  So you know what I'm talking about…

JK:  So, a good day back in Halifax…

CM:  Oh yeah, people are treating me… people are great. The City of Halifax is great, the cops are great, the Spring Garden Area Merchants' Association is great, and you know, give them a little [salute], because they, you know, were really supportive of me making this happen, so ...

JK:  As soon as you called them, they just jumped right on it, hey?

CM:  Oh, totally, man.  They made this happen so fast without any hassle. I'm very grateful, because it's a lot to try to pull off.  You know, like, to try to go to all these cities I'm talking…The rest of the cities have a lot to live up to, because Halifax has definitely raised the bar on how they've treated me in getting this project started. So, just letting everybody know, Halifax is number one so far... you gonna let 'em keep that title?


JK:  So, what's your next stop?

CM:  I'm gonna do Burlington-Hamilton for a small mural, and then I'm going to be doing ... Okay, how am I gonna do this ...I'm probably gonna go to Vancouver, Calgary, Golden, Regina, Winnipeg, then back to Ontario…I can do any day in Toronto because it’s so close. Like Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal I'm gonna save for last, because they're all so close to me.

Yeah, and then I'm gonna do...Maybe get out to the Sault or something' like that ...Yeah, then I'm gonna spend a week or so doing Newfoundland, PEI and New Brunswick, so…

JK:  Awesome!

CM:  Yeah, those ones are gonna be tough, well not New Brunswick, but PEI and Newfoundland, because it's a lot for the ferry. They're as far as you can go, so it's a little pricey, but with the support I got so far today, I can see this working.  You know, it might not be perfect, but, we'll find a way to make it happen.

“…every year, you improve a little bit, and if you want to get instant success with your art, you might as well go and get another job. Because if your only goal is to make money, go be a stockbroker or a banker or something like that.  But if you want to produce something for the world, and yourself, and then hopefully, make a living with it, then you're gonna have to struggle.”

JK:  I'd like you to talk a little bit about the other stuff that you're doing now— your acrylics and stuff—so that we can spread the word to Haligonians that you're online and your paintings are available.

CM:  Yeah, because I always did chalk art, right?

JK:  Yes, that's what you're known for.  But your acrylics, I mean, I've seen many of them.  They're beautiful…

CM:  Well, I'm becoming kind of amazing, yeah ..

JK:  Yeah ...

CM:  But, with a lot of practice, right?  I still got a lot to learn.

JK:  For sure…

CM:  But it's—it's a lot of fun, having experimented with that, and now I'm starting to find my groove with it, and it, it's really enjoyable actually.  It's hard to tell which one I prefer more.  I mean, I love the chalk art, but the acrylic paintings are a lot more…it's really comfortable, but they are both a lot of fun.  But like eventually, with sidewalk art, you have to do less, just because it's, you know ...

JK: It's physically demanding ...

CM: Yeah, you get arthritis in your spine, so I'm very grateful that I get to do all these paintings now, and have people buying my paintings…

By Chalkmaster Dave
JK:  So, will you still always love Spiderman and Batman and...

CM:  Yeah, well, anyone who doesn't love Batman should be beat up by Batman, I think.  

JK: I agree.


CM:  Batman rocks.

Voice in background: What about Aquaman?

CM:  Yeah, Aqua ... oh, go play with a fish, Aquaman.

JK:  Yeah, Batman's the dude.  No super powers, man! 

CM:  He's just 'that guy', you know what I mean?  

JK:  So how about tell us a little bit about what's it been like…to encourage younger artists to practice their craft instead of maybe feeling like, oh, you know, “It's all over if I can't make it in a year or two”.

CM:  Yeah, and that's that American Idol kind of thing that society has right now, where all you have to do is just go try to get a lucky break. It's not supposed to be like that. You're supposed to work hard. Especially with art.  You practice it, and you get better as you go. Like, every year, you improve a little bit, and if you want to get instant success with your art, you might as well go and get another job. Because if your only goal is to make money, go be a stockbroker or a banker or something like that.  But if you want to produce something for the world, and yourself, and then hopefully, make a living with it, then you're gonna have to struggle. You have to accept that. That's all there is to it.

You're gonna fall on your face, and it's gonna hurt, and it's gonna sting, and you're gonna wanna cry and you're gonna wanna give up. But what differentiates not just me, but any other artist that made it, from the ones who don't, is, at that moment .. we choose to get up. Even when it hurts, and it stinks. That's all there is to it. And be grateful to your supporters, and always know that.  Because without their support, you're just a hobbyist. You're just painting pretty pictures for, for you.  So, your support is everything. Your fans, make you what you are, right?  …or at least they're an integral part of who you are. So, yeah, definitely appreciate the fans, and be willing to sacrifice and work hard. Period.  That's all there is to it.  I, um, posted on Facebook that mural I did ten years ago, here in Halifax and like I say, it's crap. That's meaning to say, it was to myself, but it's definitely way, way below what I'm capable of now, but that is part of where I was at, at that time.  Now, I can paint anything...

JK:  Which was pretty amazing at that time...

CM:  Yeah, I was like “awesome”, or so I thought, and you see the difference between that and now, but with practice.  You're not gonna get there in one year. I am 43, even though I look 42. Um, and it took me this long to get this good, right?  … and I'm still learning.  I don't know, there's artists out there ten times better than me, but like it's a matter of just keep going. And you try, that's it.  It's a never-ending quest. I know that sounds like some kind of weird hippie quote, but that it's all your life.

“I am 43, even though I look 42. Um, and it took me this long to get this good, right?  … and I'm still learning…” 

JK:  No, but that's it. From what I know of my own personal experience with art, and musicians, and knowing some working musicians over the years, who have said "I know I'm never gonna get famous, but if I can, if I can live by my, by my art, then that's what the goal is".

CM:  Yeah, I'm surviving now. I mean, I have my rough times, but I'm getting by and the bills are paid. Finally, things are going okay, I've got no complaints.  So, it wasn't like that all the time, you know. People I cared for went without—I went without.  Many sad moments, but that's part of your journey if you're gonna do it.  It's not gonna be easy, so embrace the struggle.

JK: Well, we're looking forward to enjoying the rest of the tour and, seeing your pictures on Facebook, and we'll be spreading the word through Arts East. So, thanks a lot for taking the time out to chat.

CM: Thanks a bunch.

Jennetta Keizer and Chalkmaster Dave

Chalkmaster Dave, Halifax is only a left turn at Truro on your way to the Granite Planet. We would love to see you swing by again! 

To see the fabulous 3-D drawings Chalkmaster has been making along the way, as well as his acrylic paintings, visit his Facebook pages:

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