- By Kevin D. Thompson Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Rod Tryon is grimacing a bit. The artist, 64, is sweating and staring at his chalk painting, a hole in the ground with a crystal skull in the middle that’s being guarded by a cheetah and crocodiles.
“It’s an Indiana Jones type of thing,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
But also a lot of work.
>>PHOTOS: 2018 Lake Worth Street Painting Festival
Tryon has been bending down since Friday. It takes a toll, but it’s worth it.
“The physical, up and down for 10 hours a day is a little tough,” said Tryon, who’s been painting for 30 years. “It gets harder every year, but I hang in there. I love the interaction with the audience.”
More than 600 other artists — young and old — were working just as hard as Tryon on Saturday during the 24th Annual Street Painting Festival, the Lake Worth signature event that turns Lake and Lucerne avenues into a giant outdoor art gallery.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend this weekend, a far cry from the 7,000 people who came to the first festival in 1994 that was held on J, K, L and M streets. Mother Nature cooperated with temperatures in the high 70s.
The street painting festival claims bragging rights as the world’s largest, covering more area than any other festival of its kind.
“We have 250 street paintings, over 100 of them are done by elementary and high school students,” said Maryanne Webber, the festival’s executive director and artist coordinator who has helped produce every festival. “That inspires so many young individuals.”
There’s also live music on the festival’s mainstage at the Cultural Plaza at Lake Avenue and M Street and a Children’s Meadow street painting area. Also, look for the food court along with several downtown restaurants.
All different types of paintings were on display this year — colorful flowers, Mister Rogers and…the Black Panther.
Jess Estrada, a 17-year-old, 11th grader at John I. Leonard High School, was one of the young painters working on painting a dragon.
“It’s really hot out here,” she said. “We’ll be out here today and tomorrow unless someone finishes earlier, then I’ll go home.”
This is Estrada’s second festival. Last year was a little bland, she said. “I didn’t know what to do, but I was here already, so I just free-styled and it came out kind of bad, but it’ll be better this year.”
Cass Womack, a 34-year-old Tampa artist, was selected to paint a mural on a four-sided cube. It’s her fifth festival.
“We got cute and did a lion tamer thing where a beta fish wraps a fox in a fish tank with other elements tied to it,” she said. “I love coming here every year. You learn so much from the other artists, and you’re around so much creative energy. You don’t get that anywhere else.”
John Freeland, a 44-year-old West Palm Beach artist, changed his painting after the Parkland school shooting. Instead of painting a smiling Jesus, Freeland painted the following words: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”
Freeland said it was more appropriate.
“It has a lot more meaning,” he said.
But for Kylee, a 9th-grader, it was all about “The Lion King.”
“I just really liked the movie,” she said. “It’s a classic.”
This is Kylee’s fourth festival.
“The first year I learned not working in a big group is not good,” she said. “For the past two years, we’ve done a silhouette and you have to do certain things first or things get messy.”
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Krystine Deal, a 35-year-old Boca Raton resident, is selling lemonade from a stand. Business has been steady, she said. It’s her first festival in Lake Worth, but Deal has been to the one in Florence, Italy.
“It’s been really exciting to see how everything starts from sketches and then you see how it all comes together,” she said.