On the cloudy but warm Memorial Day afternoon, four artists and two assistants were determined to finish their 800-square-foot chalk pastel painting for the 35th anniversary of the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival.
Monday marked day six of the effort, and the veteran I Madonnari artists donned floppy hats to block the sun and covered their hands in chalk as they worked on the detailed, outdoor painting of a map of Mexico, from Puerto Vallarta to the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The image is a recreation of Miguel Covarrubias’ map, entitled: “México y Sus Riquezas Naturales” or “Mexico and Its Natural Resources.” From mountainscapes to native animals to farmers to merchants to cowboys on horseback, the vibrant image brings the detailed map to life with bright colors and intricate designs.
The large painting is the featured work for the virtual festival.
Jay Schwartz told the News-Press Monday afternoon that he and his fellow artists hoped to have the piece complete by the end of that day.
“At some point, we decided this was a good idea,” he said, laughing at the sheer size of the image — 40 feet by 20 feet. “But it’s just super fun, and it’s got a lot of great cultural elements.”
Ann Hefferman spotted Mr. Covarrubias’ map at the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City, and together with Mr. Schwartz, Sharyn Chan and Rod Tryon, the recreation came to life at a private location overlooking Santa Barbara.
Ms. Hefferman told the News-Press that the artists were in a totally different part of the city for last year’s painting.
“What I think is fun is that we’re on the opposite side of the city getting a whole new vantage point,” she said. “This view is incredible. We live in such a beautiful place.”
She added, chuckling, “Not that we’re looking at it (the view) that much!”
The massive painting is part of the artists’ efforts to make the 35th anniversary special for the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit that brings professional artists to school. Ms. Hefferman, Mr. Schwartz and Ms. Chan all collaborated in 2020, and they have volunteered their time year after year for the organization.
In addition to the seasoned artists working on “México y Sus Riquezas Naturales,” Ms. Hefferman’s daughter, Emily, helped out, along with Fred Wilmes.
“This is just a great thing, (especially) during the pandemic where we can’t gather,” Mr. Schwartz said. “This is a great opportunity for us to get together and still be able to do this and be with each other and watch art be made.”
I Madonnari typically takes place at the Santa Barbara Mission with vendors and other activities, but free chalk was distributed on Saturday to kids all around Santa Barbara to create their own art and post it online. The final masterpieces will be photographed and posted online, and the featured painting is being broadcast live from keyt.com for people to see the finished product.
For more information, visit ccp.sbceo.org/i-madonnari/welcome.