Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Sunday afternoon, we drove to SLO to view the I Madonnari (Italian street painting). Businesses purchase a space & find an artist to create a chalk drawing during this two-day event. 

For the artists, this is a labor of LOVE! Spending two days, sketching, then coloring your drawing with thin pieces of colored chalk is just. plain. hard! Imagine bending over to draw on concrete or asphalt - it's tough on your knees + hands... And, the reflection of the sun bouncing off the ground into your face - talk about sunburned faces! 

Mom, JPE & I spent some time walking the length of the street gallery ~ watching the artists put the finishing touches on their art work.

This is the 13th year of this arts project in SLO & it raises money to bring art & artists into the classrooms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County schools.

For some historical background: Italian street painters were initially called "I Madonnari" because they recreated images of the Madonna.

These artists were "itinerant" often moving to a city that was completing the construction of a cathedral. 

When the artwork was completed, the artists still needed to make a living, so they resorted to re-creating some art pieces directly on the pavement outside the churches. Perhaps, some of the artists were hired based on their street art? 
The featured artist & her art piece!
Detail work of butterflies
Each year the event organizers hire an artist & showcase their artwork. This year's featured artist was from Santa Barbara, but unfortunately, her piece was finished before our arrival on Sunday afternoon. 

Her artwork starts at the edge of the red brick tiles and was a 3-D piece showing a countryside through a set of open wooden doors... butterflies are fluttering through the windows. 

Monarch butterflies migrate along the coast & spend 3-4 months in the coastal areas of Pismo Beach and Morro Bay each winter. 

This was my favorite art piece. San Luis Obispo has a decent population of agricultural farmers... mostly grapes (wineries are a popular tourist attraction), bok choy, lettuces, apples, strawberries and flowers.

I especially love the strong, vivid colors of chalk used in this painting! the neon chalk really created a feeling of energy, gave depth to the picture, and a drew your eye to the simple outlines of the drawing.
Although many of the drawings started on the first day of this event had been blurred by an unexpected rainstorm (Saturday evening about 9pm), there were enough drawings to get a sense of the time & effort the artists devoted to their work. 

I'm thrilled SLO County continues to support this event!
& what a pleasant way to end a weekend visit with mom!


  1. Amazing just amazing. Hope that your Mother was there to go with you. Have a great weekend.

  2. These are so beautiful, Christine! Thanks so much for the info about the I Madonnari. Now I totally want to learn more about them. I love when old traditions are welcomed into the present in new ways.

    Sounds like such a wonderful day!

  3. Those paintings are just amazing!!!



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