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In Z Hood: Mystery Chalk Artist Inspiring Kindness in Alexandria

Ispiring messages with animal life are the trademark themes of the anonymous street artist known only as DELRAY CHALK. (Photo: Del Ray Chalk Instagram post)

The Zebra’s “In Z Hood” column began as a monthly feature when longtime North Ridge residents Janet and Jack Powers, having sold their home on Davis Avenue, were celebrating one last Halloween hurrah at their spook central trick-or-treating mecca. Over the years stories of accomplishments, celebrations, firsts, lasts, and farewells have made readers smile, cry, dream, and even aspire.

The power of word is never more evident than in times of true hardship. Uncertainty gives rise to fear. As our community struggles to adapt and readapt, then adapt once again to new hurdles amid a climate of confusing, ever-changing and at times conflicting information there is one constant: kindness.

What began a year ago, and known only as Del Ray Chalk, one woman and her three-year-old daughter have been posting colorful, always illustrated with whimsical animals, affirmations in an undisclosed alley in the City. “KINDNESS  IS THE MARK WE LEAVE ON THE WORLD” is one of her more recent chalkings.

Back at Christmas she wrote, “WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER THERE WILL BE PEACE.” On a lighter note, in easier times the artist chalked the wryly amusing quote by Oscar Wilde “BE YOURSELF; EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKEN.”

Chalking it up to the kindness of the Alexandria community spirit: We’re All In This Together! (Photo: Del Ray Chalk Instagram post)

The ephemeral nature of her street art, compounded by the mystery surrounding her identity and the location of her urban canvas, renders her messaging fleeting as well as elusive. Raindrops transform her art from meaningful to a puddle of kaleidoscopic abstraction.

We get by with a little help from our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Find time to be kind and creative. And creatively kind! (Photo: Del Ray Chalk Instagram post)

The most timely message from earlier in March read: STAY SAFE  WASH YOUR HANDS  BE KIND along with the more philosophical quote: “Life is, at times, tough. All we need to do is to prove that we are tougher than it.”

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gust of wind, nor gloom of night stays this chalk master. As the alley location is undisclosed, it’s social media to the rescue – you can follow Del Ray Chalk on Instagram @delraychalk

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And while you can’t go wrong quoting from the best, such as Oscar Wilde, Helen Keller, Ghandi, Yogi Berra- the giants- it’s out of the mouths of babes that we find the innocent positivity reminding us that it costs nothing to just be kind.

Sign of the Times: Practicing social distancing is hard to do but kindness is easy! (Photo: Del Ray Chalk Instagram post)

The Zebra Press publisher Mary Wadland shared her eight-year-old niece Lily’s personal chalk message on Facebook recently: “BE KIND! BE SAFE!” Paired with a rainbow and a great big heart Lily’s message is a smile-out-loud beacon of hope. Somewhere over the rainbow……..

Zebra Publisher’s niece Lily created this chalk art affirmation in her driveway. (Photo: Phil Wadland, Wadland’s Clock Repair)

As we at the Zebra Press are fond of saying, now more than ever, be the Good NewZ in someone’s life.

RELATED: Del Ray Neighborhood Becomes Stuffed Animal Zoofari

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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