I Madonnari artists begin 800-square-foot painting
The 2021 I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival is virtual again this year with 88 independent paintings and one 800-square-foot featured piece by three veteran artists. It will be “the biggest piece Santa Barbara has ever seen,” artist Jay Schwartz told the News-Press.
The festival spent $3,000 on chalk this year, anticipating large-scale paintings. The 88 sponsored paintings will be located mainly on driveways and private property.
Because of public health restrictions, community members can’t view the paintings in person. The final masterpieces will be photographed and posted online, and the featured painting is broadcasted live from KEYT’s website for people to watch its progress.
Ann Hefferman, Sharyn Chan and Mr. Schwartz began the 40-foot by 20-foot painting Wednesday morning, and the livestream launched that afternoon.
This year’s piece is a recreation of a map Ms. Hefferman saw in Mexico City, titled “México y Sus Riquezas Naturales” or “Mexico and Its Natural Resources.”
The artists created an outline of their plan, breaking the map into grids for an accurate depiction.
Ms. Chan sent the sketch to a commercial printer to be enlarged into 14 10-foot-long blueprints. She spent two days poking holes through the outlines, so the artists could quickly dust chalk through the paper and reproduce the lines onto the pavement.
The three artists agreed it is the “least fun” of the street painting process. It took four hours Wednesday for them to complete the outline.
This weekend, they’ll be working 10-hour days to complete their ambitious design. And they do it all as volunteers.
They have each participated in the festival for many years and have traveled to other street painting festivals as well.
They met years ago at the festival and now frequently collaborate. The three look like long-time friends as they work together.
The three artists told the News-Press that they’ll miss seeing the other artists and smelling the food wafting from the vendors. But the virtual format grants them privacy and time to focus on the details.
I Madonnari is a large fundraiser for the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit that brings professional artists to schools.
Both I Madonnari and the Children’s Creative Project have struggled during the pandemic.
Some school districts stopped requesting CCP presentations during distance and hybrid learning schedules. Carpinteria Unified School District, though, remained loyal to the program.
I Madonnari garnered 88 sponsors this year, compared to around 140 in pre-pandemic festivals.
The festival was the first of its kind in North America when Executive Director Kathy Koury launched it in 1987. It usually takes place at the Santa Barbara Mission with vendors and lots of activity.
One way the community can engage with the festival this year is with a kids chalk activity. I Madonnari and Village Properties will be distributing chalk to children from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 1436 State St. in Santa Barbara.
Kids can chalk up their creations and have their parents post the artwork online.
For more ways to engage in I Madonnari, go to ccp.sbceo.org/i-madonnari/welcome.