Chalk Shadow Art


Photo: Chang W. Lee for The New York Times

I saw that "chalk shadow art" is making the round on the Net, without attribution or explanation (sigh). So, with a little Googling, I found the back story to the phenomenon:

Earlier this year, Mr. Gallagher was mugged on his way home from a shift at Bar Tabac on Smith Street, where he worked as a waiter. "I turn around and this guy's got a two-foot machete in my face," he said.

Mr. Gallagher was unhurt and the mugger was later caught by the police, but one night soon after the mugging, with the image of his attacker's dark silhouette still burned into his memory, Mr. Gallagher was mesmerized by a shadow on the sidewalk. He reached into his pocket and felt the chalk he had used to write the outdoor menu at Bar Tabac, and he dropped to his knees to outline it.

Shadow art was born.

Now Mr. Gallagher heads out on foot or on his bike with a backpack full of chalk, looking for shadows to trace. When he tells you that "everything is fair game," he means it. He has traced everything from hydrants to whole city blocks.

Conrad Mulcahy of The New York Times has the story: Link


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I have to second the other comments, he was not the first one. I have joined my university in 2003 and there was LOADS of chalk shadow art - just not with chalk, with white paint - near my uni. Still is.
Regarding the illegal bits:
chalk i think is not illegal, thanks to being able to be washed off. paint is different though...i think.
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while Gallagher may be the center of this particular story, he is by no means original. I have been 'chalking' for quite some time now (and take most of my inspiration from Keith Harring) and a number of friends of mine have been outlining shadows in chalk for some time.

nice to see some more publicity on the topic, but i cant help but cringe at the line "shadow art was born".
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I used to do this when I was young. I had seen something about how people in Chaco had marked the solstice on spiral carved into stone.
Then as I got older I would mark different shadows with whatever time of the day it was.

I still do it. Except now that the obsession has evolved to marking specific shadows at different times of the year and photographing them, so they are more permanent.
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