Street Painting Festival: Beautiful Temporary Art

In 16th century Italy, itinerant street painters — madonnari — were known for the images they created in public squares, using bits of broken roof tiles, charcoal, and white chalk. Their payment was often in food. Their depictions were often religious, including the Madonna that earned them their name.

Fast forward to modern cities all over the world, where people gather at street festivals to pay homage to the street painter, who now largely uses commercial chalk, and depicts subjects ranging from fine art portraits to comic book characters, nature scenes to technology.

My family is very fortunate to have an annual street painting festival right nearby — San Rafael, CA’s Italian Street Painting Festival, which, fittingly, like some of the early festivals, takes place in front of a church — this one, Mission San Rafael Arcangel.

Stroll with us through the recent Italian Street Painting Festival, as we enjoy the extreme creativity and talent of artists young and old.

There’s still more to come! My next post will feature the street painting of children.

Buona festa di madonnari!

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

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5 responses to “Street Painting Festival: Beautiful Temporary Art

  1. great festival!! here in Italy I don’t see the Madonnari everywhere.. just in turistic towns or in festival.. It’s a pity, because they are great!

  2. Stunning! What a magestic, wonderful festival. Thanks for the article, Katie.

  3. you’ve got some talented artists.

    wondered how our zeta street painting would stand up in this arena?

    • Hi Mamma C, Katie, and Kath! I’m sorry I missed some of your lovely comments earlier. Thank you so much for coming by. I’m glad you appreciate the artistry of the chalk painters. Magestic is right, Katie! Mamma C, I’m sorry there aren’t more of these in Italy. It is wonderful, and can be very democratic and community-oriented, as well as aesthetically rich. Kath, I very vaguely remember the zeta street painting. Did we take up the whole of Hilgard??

  4. Beautiful work! I really like the Charlie Chaplin piece!

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