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“Nicholas! You are getting chalk-happy,” cried one of the assistants helping to assemble Steed Taylor’s “Daughters and Sons Knot” Sunday morning. “Don’t make me slap you!” About a dozen people were milling about the 800 block of Vermont Avenue, laying string across the asphalt, placing chalk marks, and painting black latex paint between the lines. The chalk makes clean-up a little more tedious, and on the second day, with only half the design completed and rain on the way, the crew was short on time.
The first day saw about 20 or 30 volunteers. (Too many volunteers and they start standing on one another; when painters outnumber the chalkers, the former begin making mistakes.) The heat was unbearable at noon on Saturday, and with the sun directly overhead the crew intended to take a two-hour break—-long enough for the sun to begin casting shadows on the site from the west. In that space of time the AP showed up to take pictures. “They wouldn’t let us pretend to paint,” says Steed Taylor, the artist behind the Road Tattoo. “So we had to get the materials out and get back to work for their photo shoot.” Sweltering heat throughout the weekend was not the only problem Steed and his helpersencountered during the weekend: Steed says someone from DCPD or DDOT drove over the tattoo.
Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday, the crew made significant progress, completing about another quarter of the knot, and was well on it way to beating the rain. By 3 p.m. the storm clouds rolled in just as the final strokes were being painted onto the street, leaving the chalk—-and the electrical power of over 200,000 area residents—-to be washed away by the heavens.