Dallas sidewalk artist creates community at Christmas amid COVID

DALLAS  Sidewalk artist Greg Rogers is at it again in his suburban Dallas neighborhood: this time creating chalk art celebrating Christmas even as health authorities warn against gathering for the season.

The businessman—a self-taught artist, writer and avid stage designer—started doing sidewalk art during the initial weeks of last spring’s COVID-19 lockdown, encouraging his neighbors with reminders of the world as it was … culminating in a large version of the Easter story.

Admitting he “had no idea it would mean so much to so many,” Rogers watched in wonder as his transitory masterpieces prompted socially distanced conversation, brought neighbors into contact with neighbors and drew viewers from across the DFW Metroplex. They came in cars and on foot, some making a day trip of it.

At that point, Rogers realized, “COVID and its disruption of all our busy schedules might be doing something positive without our realizing it … getting families to do things together as we looked for a sense of normalcy in strange times.” 

Community, Rogers added, “was actually coming together more during a quarantine than what we’d experienced when we were supposedly free to talk anytime at any distance.” The sidewalk art gave a centralized destination to which people were drawn.

As cold, rainy weather hit in late fall, Rogers did fewer chalk pieces. 

Neighbors, wearied by COVID fatigue and fall surges in the Dallas area, retreated into their own homes. The few people who stopped to chat while Rogers played his guitar outside seemed preoccupied with the ongoing pandemic and spoke of the depression wrought by isolation.

“I decided I needed to get busy again to see if we could regain what we’d stumbled upon because of COVID,” Rogers said. Christmas proved the catalyst and subject. 

It worked.

“We’ve had many people come to see the work,” Rogers said. “As we’ve watched from our dining room window, we’ve begun to see groups talking to each other from socially safe distances, with smiles on their faces and a little bit more energy than before.”

Rogers believes in community. “We were created by God in part to relate to one another,” he said, explaining that if we don’t engage with others, we lose not just community but a part of ourselves.  “If the art can be a magnet and a destination where individuals, families, and neighbors can find a little of that again, then I’ll keep drawing forever.”

And it is the Christmas story of hope that promises reconciliation between humankind and God, a truth Rogers hopes those who view his art will discover or reaffirm.

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