Wednesday, June 22

i Madonnari : the Chalk Painting Tradition

Chalk Painter
Originally uploaded by seeA.
This photo is by SeeA (Christine) and is posted originally at her Flickr website. (click on photo to see her photo pages)

I am in awe of the work these street artists produce in Denver, Colorado and other cities around the world. It will be washed away by street sweepers or rain, admired for a day or maybe a few days by people passing by. It is given to the public in a spirit of service and artistic adventure ... the artists must practice the difficult art of non-attachment to make such beautiful ephemeral art. This one really struck me because of the vibrant colors and playfulness of the design. SeeA shot this colorful painting and painter-at-work so the incredibly bright colors really come through.

Here, quoted from the Pasadena Absolut Chalk Festival, from their page on the history of street painting in Europe:

Historically, madonnari have been itinerant artists noted for a life of travel and freedom. They were, however, aware of the many festivals and holidays unique to each province, and would time their arrival to join in the celebrations. Today, one can always find a festivity taking place each day of the year in Italy. Upon arriving in a town or city, the madonnari would go about their business of creating paintings directly on the sidewalk or public square using chalk as their medium. Until the local police moved them away, they survived from money they received as alms, and from small commissions. After the holiday, or with the first rains, the picture and the painter would vanish.

The Absolut Chalk Festival is huge - it's free and happening this week, June 25th and 26th -- that's just a couple of days, so go if you can!

Street painting is enjoying a rebirth and there are many other street painting festivals happening this year. Another one to check out is the Massey, Ontario Street Painting Festival in Canada. Check out some of the street chalk painters like Rod Tryon, Julian Beever, Jay Schwartz and Mark Cummings. Julian Beever does FANTASTIC chalk paintins that look so 3D you feel like you're going to fall into them.

These two chalk paintings below, are from a Flickr photo page that has a dozen or so of Beever's street art posted. You can see more at Beever's own website:

How to do Street Painting from eHow. Just a bit of instruction, in case anyone reading this is interested in rebelling against the commercialism of art and giving your artworks away to the public for free -- and temporarily. Of course, some chalk street painters make lots of $ painting commisioned chalkworks for big corporations -- guess there's always the corporate sponsors :>(