I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival

I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival

May, Memorial Day weekend
This festival celebrating the ancient Italian tradition of street painting was brought to Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1987. Some 200 professional and amateur artists create chalk "paintings"—both reproductions of old masters and original designs—on the Old Mission courtyard. Artist Kurt Wenner has been known for his trompe l'oeil paintings in which he transforms sidewalks into fountains or chasms. In 1988, his Dies Irae, or "Day of Wrath," was a maelstrom of struggling bodies. He used 200 sticks of chalk for Dies Irae .
In Italy in the 17th century, vagabond artists created sidewalk works of chalk art. Because they often painted the Madonna, they were known as madonnari . Artists still follow the tradition in the Italian village of Grazie di Curtatone, and Santa Barbara's "I Madonnari" is considered the village's sister festival. Another sister festival is held at San Luis Obispo Mission on the last weekend in April. The art works, masterful as they are, are gone in a week's time.
CONTACTS:
Santa Barbara Festival Office, Children's Creative Project
3970 La Colina Rd. Ste. 9
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
805-964-4710; fax: 805-563-1103
www.imadonnarifestival.com