The company tasked with removing the remaining artwork from the Sarasota Chalk Festival believes they've come up with a solution for scrubbing the streets in Burns Square without causing damage, and are waiting for the city's approval to begin cleaning in earnest.
Gorilla Kleen has sponsored the Chalk Festival and removed the artwork from the streets for the past three years. This year, artists created a challenge for the company by using water-resistant binders and sealers to protect their artwork from the rain. Some of the art was removed in December, but others remained as Gorilla Kleen worked with the city to develop a plan to clean the streets without damaging them.
Last month, some Burns Square businesses began to wonder when the artwork would be removed from the streets. An agreement between the city and the Chalk Festival requires the streets to be cleaned within 30 days of the event's conclusion, which was Nov. 18.
Those businesses may not have to wonder about the artwork much longer. Gorilla Kleen president John Cloud said he tested a potential cleaning technique to remove some artwork on Sunday morning, with positive results. He said the city was pleased with the outcome, but would run a friction test to ensure that it did not affect roadway safety.
City spokeswoman Jan Thornburg said that, although the Chalk Festival was responsible for cleaning the streets, the city had a vested interest in supervising the more complicated process to make sure no problems arose. She verified Cloud’s claim that the initial cleaning efforts appeared to be successful.
“As of yesterday, it seems they were able to remove the art with no damage,” Thornburg said.
If the city gives the company the go-ahead, Cloud said Gorilla Kleen would focus on one-hour cleaning efforts early in the day to minimize impact on traffic. He estimated that overall, the cleaning process would take about two weeks.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].