Those cute chalk characters you see all over the sidewalks of Ann Arbor, the walls are from this artist
ANN ARBOR, MI – David Zinn could have opted for works of art to keep as long as he wanted.
Instead, the artist uses chalk to create intricate 3D cartoons of the sidewalks and walls of Ann Arbor that make passers-by to stop, double-look, and often smile.
The fact that the rain washes away his art does not bother him.
“If all of these designs were visible, I would be considered a public nuisance,” Zinn said. “But also I would run out of places to draw.”
There’s a sidewalk downtown where Peaceable Kingdom was located where Zinn said he drew seven different things using utility blankets.
“The first one was not my favorite,” he said. “It shows why washing in the rain is for the best. “
Zinn uses anything from brick walls, sidewalks with gashes and shavings, and utility blankets as canvas. Each piece can take at least two hours, which often dictates when it starts drawing to capture the perfect amount of sunlight and the appropriate shadows.
“It’s very improvised,” Zinn said. “There are always specs, cracks and plants, which is a problem when you have a plan. If you don’t have a plan, you’re free to use the cracks, specs, and plants to explain why you’re there.
Zinn, a resident of the Old West Side, was born and raised outside of town on a dirt road with no sidewalks. He could argue that his passion for them now comes from making up for lost time. But, honestly, he just wants an excuse to be out on a beautiful day, he said.
“If I lived somewhere with 75 degrees and sunny all day, I could still do it tomorrow,” Zinn said. “But as a long time resident of this weather region, you finally notice that when we have your idea of a perfect day, we go out because it will never last.”
If the forecast is above zero and the sidewalks are cleared of snow, Zinn begins to rationalize that “it might be a beautiful day.”
“The 3D illusions I’m trying to create don’t interact with the sun because of the shadows,” Zinn said. “I prefer cloudy days. If we have a sunny day in the middle of winter, I have to draw on the shaded side of the street. I’ll shiver in the shade on a bright sunny day.
Zinn incorporates “false shadows” in his works to give his creatures a three-dimensional appearance.
“There are little spots, almost imperceptible spots of darkness, which make it look like they’re standing there,” he said. “It’s about trying to make the unreal, real.”
In his designs, Zinn has kind of ended up with a little mouse that appears in his designs, often when he “doesn’t expect it to appear,” he said. He named her Nadine,
“She looks like a good, tough creature doing her best,” Zinn said. “She always seems to be the hero of what’s going on. I ended up posting it on my various social networks with captions that look like chapter titles. People started to want to know if there was a storybook about Nadine because it looked like it was illustrations from a book.
Thus, Zinn has published the “Unknown Tales of Nadine”, which can be ordered on his website. Several pages are left blank for people to write down what they think is happening in the image.
Zinn also created the “Laughing at Clouds” mural on Fifth Avenue, south of Liberty Street, in Ann Arbor with his uncle John Copley and Danijel Matanic.
More information on Zinn’s work can be found at https://zinnart.com/.
More information on Ann Arbor news: