When wandering the streets of Ann Arbor this summer, you may notice a few fun friends hanging out on the sidewalks of downtown. These three-dimensional chalk characters are the creations of local artist, David Zinn! His chalk scenes are created using anamorphic art, which creates the illusion that the drawing are interacting with the real world.
This past fall, David Zinn created a permanent three-dimensional mural on 5th Avenue near Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor. The mural is from the classic film, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, as it depicts Gene Kelly hanging off a lamppost with a closed umbrella. Stop by and capture your own Gene Kelly pose!
We asked David some questions about his creations, check them out below!
- Where all can visitors find your chalk drawings? Honestly, they could show up anywhere on the street, but the "downtownest" stretches of Main Street and Liberty are my most frequent canvases. There's also at least one "permanent" chalk drawing inside the Kerrytown Market, unless someone has spilled coffee on it already. I prefer not to be more specific, because stumbling upon these things unexpectedly is part of the whole idea behind them.
- Do you schedule your drawings? There isn’t a schedule; most often, the locations are determined by errands I need to do and the seductiveness of the weather I encounter along the way. Two aspects of Ann Arbor have facilitated what I do: 1) you can accomplish a lot on foot, and 2) the weather is sometimes so perfect that it's a crying shame to go indoors.
- Is Ann Arbor the only place you chalk the streets? I have drawn some creatures as far away as Houston and Los Angeles, and several in other parts of Michigan, but the majorities have happened within a mile of my house.
- Do your characters have names? Some have developed names, either because so many people asked or because I needed to be able to talk to them. The green bug-eyed monster is Sluggo, and the flying pig(s) is/are Philomena. Two of the mice (and some of the monsters) have names derived from the captions of their original on-line appearances, e.g. "From that day forward, Captain Gloucester never left port without a double sardine special." For all the other creatures, your guess is as good as mine.
- How long have you been chalking up downtown Ann Arbor? If you include the ones I started drawing in my driveway as procrastination from work, then it's been a little over 10 years and counting.
- What is your favorite color of chalk? That's a hard one to answer; it's like asking a parent who their favorite child is. Besides, different colors are ideal for different situations. That said, there's one fluorescent shade of orange that I only use for special occasions, and I go through massive amounts of green.
- What is your favorite thing to do/see/eat in Ann Arbor? Not surprisingly, my favorite thing to do is to draw on a downtown sidewalk on a perfect summer evening. Second is to see a movie from the balcony of the Michigan Theatre. Third is to go down to the UMMA, walk directly to a randomly chosen piece of art in a randomly chosen room, and stare at it until I feel like we understand each other. My favorite thing to see is the sunset from the top of the parking structure at Ashley and Ann Street. I also enjoy visiting any one of the dozens of downtown parks. My favorite thing to eat – with a huge number of close contenders – is Sunday brunch at Amadeus. You have to be able to roll with the idea of stew as brunch, though. Which I can.