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Temporary masterpieces a big hit at the Denver Chalk Art Festival [photos]

For two days, several blocks around Denver's historic Larimer Square district were closed off to traffic and opened up to 200 professional, amateur and student artists who crouched on the asphalt to create chalk paintings to inspire, inform and delight visitors.

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The event follows street painting traditions that originated in 16th-century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming asphalt into canvas using chalk.

Artwork was sponsored by local businesses (including Examiner.com) and ranged from reproductions to original work, whimsical to tragic, and abstract to impeccably executed photorealism. Artists worked through blazing sun and even a sudden Colorado summer rainstorm to complete museum-quality work that would soon be washed away -- but for one weekend transformed a city block into a public gallery.

See images from the 8th Annual Denver Chalk Art Festival below:

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