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I Madonnari Festival to Feature Work of Laguna Blanca Art Teacher

Delphine Louie will create her street painting at the steps of the Santa Barbara Mission

Everyone has a story about how they got to where they are, how they found what they loved and the moment it all suddenly clicked. Delphine Louie, an art teacher at Laguna Blanca School since 2002, is the distinguished featured artist who will “paint” at the foot of the steps to the Santa Barbara Mission at this year’s I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival.

Louie began drawing at a very young age.

“My little sister was born profoundly deaf,” she said. “I found that drawing was a way to communicate with her in silence for hours. She was my inspiration and my need to keep improving.”

Louie speaks of the importance of detail: “Due to my little sister’s condition, I had to be accurate about the way cats looked different from lions, fish from dolphins, and Asians from Indians. I began to look very carefully at the subtle to great differences in shapes.”

Each Memorial Day weekend in Santa Barbara, I Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Mission plaza using pastel chalk on pavement to create 150 vibrant, large-scale images. I Madonnari is the first festival to bring this romantic feel to the western hemisphere from the sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

The festival benefits the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The project serves 50,000 children in more than 100 schools with visual and performing arts workshops and performances throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

Louie’s first I Madonnari Festival was in 2002.

“I did a 4x6 painting and I was hooked after that,” she said.

But Santa Barbara’s I Madonnari Festival isn’t the only one in which Louie has participated.

“My favorite I Madonnari Festival was the one where I competed and won in the ‘simplice’ amateur category in Italy in 2007,” she said. “This was for their National I Madonnari Competition. It was an incredible experience.”

This year, Louie will paint “Rebekah and Abraham’s servant” by Carlo Maratti.

“I will begin work on the 12-foot-by-16-foot square on May 21 and work until the 27th,” she said. “Visitors are welcome during the week!”

Louie will also be bringing along some of the best student artists at Laguna.

“I will not be working with any LBS students because I want them to take full ownership of their image, process, time management and fun,” she said.

This year’s student artists include senior Morgan Raith, junior Zoe Serbin, sophomore Maya Christian and freshman Kela Johnson.

The festival will take place May 26-28. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission is free.

— Aija Mayrock is a sophomore at Laguna Blanca School.

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