Chalk It Up

In October, Little Italy opened its streets to San Diego residents and over 120,000 visitors to celebrate the country’s largest Italian homecoming – FESTA! This year the Little Italy Association announced that FESTA! would be merging with the annual Sicilian Festival to create a massive celebration of Italian culture. Visitors were treated to authentic Italian music and food, a bocce ball tournament, a colorful flag precession, and of course the ever-popular Gesso Italiano (Italian Chalk) competition. In honor of Balboa Park’s centennial anniversary, the Gesso Italianio 2015 asked chalk artists to portray images that paid tribute to the park. The results were more than impressive.


The chalk competition consisted of several categories including Crowd Favorite, Professional, Best Elementary/Middle School, and Best High School. Chalk artists from Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) managed to wow the judges with their koi pond piece – an homage to the koi of Balboa Park – enough to place first in the high school category, earning CCA the title of Gesso Italiano Best High School, as well as a $250 cash prize. The talented team of students consisted of Isabella Spadone, Sophia Bayat, Tiana Mamaghani, and Harmonie Lau. Each artist was a part of CCA’s Envision Visual Arts Conservatory, an after-school program for advanced art students. On how it felt to come together and create their chalk masterpiece, Isabella and Tiana shared, “Gesso was a really great experience for us. It really helped us learn about teamwork while we created something beautiful.” To learn more visit