Cyndi Holt draws a Funism heart on the Strand on Friday during the peaceful protest. Photo by Chelsea Schreiber
Funism fans took to the Strand near 22nd Street on Friday to spend an afternoon drawing hearts and happy sentiments on the cement in support of the local chalk artist.
“There were probably 50 adults there throughout the day playing with chalk,” said K.P., the anonymous chalk bandit who is known for her trademark “heart hug” and chalk sayings drawn across the community that say happy phrases like “Today is a great day to be happy,” or “Forgiveness is at the heart of happiness.”
“The police were there but they never bothered anyone,” said the bandit. “Nobody wrote anything horrible. It was all about happiness.”
Recently a man Funism fans refer to as Mr. Sad Backpack or Windexturd has been seen washing the chalk messages off of the Strand with Windex and a brush.
Fans of the chalk art banded together on Friday to spread the happy sayings and hug hearts across the community. However, the event was not organized to protest Mr. Sad Backpack.
“It’s not about him. I don’t even acknowledge him,” Lisa Pedersen, the organizer of the event said. “I believe in [K.P.] and I noticed she was feeling disillusioned and she needed love so I said, ‘Hey lets go down and do this.’ And it kind of turned into something bigger.”
The idea for the event was born out of the Pedersen family’s “Operation February.”
“It was just an idea for my family, where I was noticing our lives were so busy that we weren’t stopping to acknowledge the goodness in our family,” said Pedersen. “I created paper hearts and throughout February we’re supposed to write messages to each other like, ‘I believe in you’ or ‘I love you.’ My son even wrote one that said ‘Thank you for not yelling at me so much.’ Hey, I’ll take what I can get. It’s just really nice to honor each other and focus on the positive.”
Pedersen said that the Friday event was a success because so many people stopped by to draw and read the positive messages.
“It was nice to see so many people participate and be involved, but now it’s like four blocks long,” said the Funism artist. “One lady who lives right on the Strand had her helper roll her out in her wheelchair so she could draw with the chalk, and she really enjoyed it.”
Acts of Funism have been popping up across the South Bay for more than a year. Often they can be seen not just on the Strand, but on driveways and in front of businesses. K.P. keeps track of businesses who support her chalk art and even draws heart hugs or phrases on friend’s driveways when she knows they are having a bad day.
“At some point there was a giant #funism and ‘Hermosa Beach loves K.P.,’” she said. “I thought it was nice, but I washed it off. I didn’t want my name on the wall because it’s not specifically about me – it’s about the chalk and being playful and childlike in a lot of ways.”
K.P. said that the movement has taken on a life of its own.
“I’m trying to organize a cleanup now just to keep the city happy,” said K.P. “But getting people to clean is much more difficult than getting them to have fun with chalk.”
The cleanup is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. K.P suggests bringing a scrub brush to “wash up and frolic.” ER