Esther Frye’s ‘Gospel in Art’ features chalk drawings

KETTERING — “It’s absolutely amazing!” says Nikki Taylor, who first saw the unusual presentation last October and loved it.

She’s referring to Gospel In Art, a chalk art program presented by Esther Frye of Xenia. See for yourself at Greenmont-Oak Park Community Church in Kettering on Sunday, Nov. 15.

“She uses fluorescent chalks and black lighting for a three-dimensional effect while she narrates the story of her drawing,” Taylor said. “She has background music, the lights are flashing, it’s really awesome.”

According to ChalkArt, the dramatic art form got its start centuries ago with pioneers who carried their easels on horseback to the town square, the meeting hall and the church house, illustrating their stories with live sketches and various media.

Many chalk art presentations like Frye’s include concealed pictures or animations revealed by use of a black light to make the picture seem to come to life.

This weekend’s program is “Shepherds on the Hillside,” the story of the Nativity. The free event is being hosted by WINGS (Women In God’s Ministry) ladies ministry.

“I was in high school during the Great Depression, and even though it was a public high school, we had a chapel service every Friday morning and usually they had a local minister who would speak,” recalls Frye, 95. “ One morning they had a chalk artist, I had never seen anything like it!”

Frye, who loved art, said her small high school couldn’t afford art or music at the time.

“I wish I could get hold of that chalk and see what I can do with it,” she remembers telling a friend.

She had that opportunity a few years later.

“I promised the Lord that if he would give me the opportunity to take art training, I would become a chalk artist and use it for him,” she says.

Eventually Frye learned where she could purchase the special chalk and bogus paper canvas used for the drawings, and saved up enough money to attend art school and study with a chalk art expert, Dr. Karl Steele.

“I gave the first presentation at a little country church in Stanton, Mich., and then the invitations began coming in from other areas,” Frye says.

For 73 years, she has presented her chalk art programs to churches, youth groups, Missions, Indian reservations and civic groups. During World War II, she was asked to draw for servicemen at Camp Atterbury in Indiana.

“I was later told by the person who had invited me that these boys were in the Battle of the Budge,” she says.

In addition to the program this weekend, Frye will be featured at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 at the Miamisburg First Church of God, 446 N. Heincke Road.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2440 or MMoss@Dayton

How to go

What: 'Gospel in Art' with chalk artist Esther Frye

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15

Where: Greenmont-Oak Park Community Church, 1921 Woodman Drive, Kettering

Admission: Free, there will be an offering to help defray the costs of the art supplies.

More info: (937) 252-6705

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