The chalkboard on Main Street is not the same type of chalkboard where students learned their letters and how to add 2 plus 2.
This 60-foot chalkboard wall lines a strip of construction on the 1600 block waiting to be filled in with bucket-list goals of students, residents, visitors and anyone who visits the downtown wall.
Karl L. Larsen, a local artist and author, and Lee Snelgrove, executive director at One Columbia, put the finishing coats of black chalkboard paint on the wall last Friday.
Then, they stenciled almost foot-long letters that spelled ‘Before I die...’ in the center of the wall.
They also stenciled “I want to____” about 10 times on each of the 15 boards that make up the wall, creating about 150 spaces for people to fill in the blanks.
But artwork is often known for not adhering to the rules, so people will most likely write outside the lines.
“Wherever there’s space people are going to write,” Larsen predicted.
The project is one of more than 300 similar walls that have taken place in over 50 countries, according to http://beforeidie.cc/. The first originated in New Orleans in 2011.
Larsen stumbled on the project back in March after searching the Internet.
He saw a beautiful canvas where people posted their goals, aspirations and dreams, he said.
So he was inspired to bring the project to Columbia.
And Main Street is the perfect place, Larsen said.
“This fits with One Columbia’s mission to bring more art to Main Street,” Snelgrove said.
Cameras at the wall will film people writing their goals and Larsen plans to create a video afterward.
People will also monitor the wall for profanity, but if that happens chalk can easily be erased or washed, Larsen said.
The wall will be unveiled at a 2 p.m. news conference Thursday by Mayor Steve Benjamin, the city of Columbia and One Columbia for Arts and History. Those at the First Thursdays event on Main Street will also be among the first to sign the wall as well.
The wall will stay up until the first Thursday in October.
The project will engage the public, Snelgrove said, a first step for his goal of adding art to the area.
“This is good because it is an interactive, temporary piece,” he said.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope