Payton Schwieso created a picture with two bats … the flying kind, not the baseball kind.

Chloe Chow was working on her own version of Van Gogh’s painting of Irises, but using chalk, not oil pant.

And John Buggs did a chalk portrait of Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

All three artists were taking part in the Downtown Evanston marketing group’s annual Chalk Art Contest, held in conjunction with the yearly merchants’ sidewalk sale.

Schwieso drew her bats in front of Plant Store Evanston, on Sherman Avenue.

Schwieso works at the store, and explained that the bats are on the “logo for our soil that we hand-make.”

If you’re wondering how you hand-make soil, that it’s just dirt, well, au contraire.

This soil is mixed with nutrients specifically for cacti.

A few yards up the street, Chow was chalk painting irises, referring to the Van Gogh painting on her tablet.

“The biggest thing,” Chow explained, “is how do I transfer the colors, because chalk is different than paint.”

Plus, Chow noted, “I have to work from the top down. I don’t want to sit on the picture.”

Keep going up Sherman, and you find Buggs, putting the finishing touches on Bear #1.

Buggs said he “wanted to do something reflecting Chicago.”

The former art school student said he put in a couple of years at that school before deciding on a different career.

“I realized that art was not very secure” as a way to make a living, he explained.

About a dozen chalk artists were taking part in the 7th annual competition.

The winner gets a $200 gift card, second place, $100.

While all of the artists put in a lot of work, that work will all be washed as soon as it rains.

But, as Schwieso noted philosophically, “such is life.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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