Pokémon Go players hoping to “catch ‘em all” hit the jackpot near the Keen Johnson Building on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus over the weekend.
Chalk artist and EKU student Wylie Caudill spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday crafting the 151 original Pokémon in chalk on the campus sidewalk. With each Pokémon taking between 10 and 25 minutes to draw, Caudill spent about 12 hours each day re-creating the characters.
Caudill said he has been drawing Pokémon with chalk for about a year. In June, he completed a chalk mural of 12 Pokémon characters on a wall on the Martin Luther King Boulevard viaduct just off East Main Street in Lexington. But he wanted to do something big that might catch the attention of the official Pokémon Twitter account. To help get the word out, Caudill tweeted his progress and started the using #PokemonEKU.
“The timing is really good, the app Pokémon Go just came out so everyone knows about it,” Caudill said. “And I think people just really like chalk art. It’s something you don’t see a lot of, and it’s really big and really bright.”
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Caudill coordinated the project with EKU officials, who have supported his chalk art since he started drawing on campus last year.
“We’ve encouraged him. He’s done it on the sides of buildings with Frozen and other depictions,” EKU President Michael Benson said Monday. “But this one kind of takes advantage of the phenomenon that is Pokémon Go.”
Benson gave Caudill water and granola bars Monday morning when he brought his son, Truman, 9, to see the chalk art.
College students, children and residents have stopped by all weekend to see Caudill’s progress.
“It speaks to the incredible kids we have here,” Benson said.
When Caudill drew his first Pokémon on campus, a Charizard, he said he had no idea how much attention the art would bring.
“I just started chalk art sort of on a whim, I had some chalk, just some random chalk in my dorm room and I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Caudill said. “The first day I chalked I had this huge crowd around me just sort of watching, and they really loved it and I enjoyed doing it, so I kept doing it.”
Caudill likes using chalk because it’s easy to blend and the colors are colors are vibrant, but his chalk creations rarely linger for long.
“Part of the art is the fact it does go away. I think it’s interesting that this art is fleeting,” Caudill said. “If you don’t come see it while it’s happening or within a day you may have missed your chance.”
Since his first drawing, Caudill’s chalk creations have drawn more and more attention.
“It’s been incredible,” Caudill said. “The response has been unbelievable.”
Abigayle Moore, 9, and her brother Connor Moore, 6, visited the chalk art Monday with their family.
“I came out here to see all the Pokémon he made, they are really good,” Abigayle said. “Raichu is my favorite.”
“I love Pokémon,” Connor said. “We just watch it on TV a lot.”
Luke Reed, 11, also used the day off school to see the Pokémon.
“My mom showed me a picture on Facebook and I’m like ‘what? I have to see this,’” Luke said. “I could name most of the Pokémon out here. This is just amazing ... I mean the Hypno is almost exact.”
Martha Davidson lives in a nearby retirement community and was looking for fun things to do for Labor Day.
“On Facebook we could see the Pokémon symbols and on Labor Day you look up bucket lists of things to do that are free and this is one of them,” Davidson said. “It’s a beautiful day, these characters are terrific, it’s a good thing to see. People of all ages can appreciate Pokémon.”
The more than 110 Pokémon Caudill had drawn by Monday morning had taken a toll, Caudill said.
“I knew it was going to be tough. It’s definitely been tougher than I thought it was,” Caudill said. “I didn’t think it would be so difficult by today, I’m just really sore ... and the heat. But it’s all worth it.”