Houston’s Via Colori art festival is an annual event in downtown Houston that benefits The Center for Hearing and Speech. Each year 200 artists create unique street paintings using pastel chalk – street paintings that you will only be able to view for two days, and then they become mere memories.

I’ve never been much of a festival person. I don’t particularly care for large crowds and music that’s often way too loud, overpriced food and drinks, etc etc ad nauseam. Especially in Houston, where the heat and humidity are just murder when you’re trying to do anything outside for nine-tenths of the year. That, and from where I live, most of the festivals held in downtown Houston are about 45 minutes away, give or take.

I definitely have to change my attitude after attending Via Colori yesterday. At least on days with good weather. It was 70 degrees and sunny, with nary a cloud in the sky when we arrived around noon. After a short walk to the fenced-off festival grounds, we were able to take in some of the amazing artwork (see the gallery below) that had been created on the streets closed off for the purpose.

Using either chalk-based paint or actual chalk, the artists were able to create some amazing works, often incorporating cracks and other imperfections in the road surface into the artwork itself – even down to the rough asphalt being used as the texture for a man’s beard in one instance.

And it wasn’t all drawing on the street, either. Mini USA had quite a few Coopers out at the show (they were the ones running the treasure hunt, too) and they had some of their models made into “Dirty Car Art” that was so good, my camera detected the setting as a portrait, which tells you something.

There were plenty of pieces that, had they been available as cheap prints, I would likely have purchased. Fortunately, the artists had the opportunity to collect votes for their work as donations to the Center, with the largest number of votes earning the winner two round-trip tickets on United Airlines. There were also other giveaways, a treasure hunt – an acquaintance of my festival partner won the folding bicycle – food, games and art opportunities for the family and live music on three separate stages.

All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday. I’d recommend going on the second day, since you’ll get to see the artwork mostly completed. Enjoy the photos!