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

I used to do something like this on a smaller scale as a kid. I would find a distinct shape in the playground blacktop area and then trace it out from the discarded chalk pieces I found near the black board. It soon became a big hit and everyone in the yard would do it and compete in teams to trace and draw the biggest shadow they could find. :)
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What an incredible way to be inspired to draw. Mr. Gallagher may not be the first to take chalk to cement (most of us did as children), but he's doing it as an adult (most of us don't), he's doing it well, and he's inspiring others.
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I have did this outside my place last year... outlined my mailbox and labeled it "four 15" as that was the time that the shadow fit the outline. Didn't last long though!
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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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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 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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