Santa Monica’s 12th Street and Michigan Avenue residents are finding their daily walk becoming a little more whimsical this week, since local artist Heidi Neilson started adding some festive flair to their street. We’re not talking on a house like a string of lights, but actually on the street, in chalk. Her 20’ long temporary scene features a variety of larger-than-life seasonal candies, including a scattering of gumdrop “seats” where little ones can be part of the merry photo op.

The scene is what they call “anamorphic” in the chalk art world — it’s painted on the street in a distorted way that looks, frankly, strange from most angles, and then springs to life, appearing to leap off the pavement, once you reach the intended viewpoint. Neilson, who usually paints walls, rather than streets, was inspired to try her hand at this style of painting after working on a mural with international chalk artist Gary Palmer this summer.

“It’s the interactions with real people that are the magic of pavement art,” Palmer said.

That’s a magic that Heidi’s been happy to step into.

“I love getting to share in the curiosity and delight of our neighbors, as I work. I’m told that the half-finished candy cane was a big hit at the preschool around the corner,” the artist said.

The gradual development of this kind of art leaves lots of time for those happy connections. Heidi has been working on it throughout the week, and expects to continue working at least through the weekend.

Visitors are welcome to head to the 1700 block cul-de-sac of 12th street, where they might get to watch the finishing touches get put in place, in between taking their own holiday photos. It’s cheerily open for all to enjoy, but only until weather and traffic wash it away.

Submitted by Heidi Neilson