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