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Chalk Artists Lay Groundwork for Colorful I Madonnari Masterpieces

27th annual festival draws street painters, spectators for a pavement array at the Santa Barbara Mission

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the festival.]

Hundreds of artists converged on the Santa Barbara Mission this weekend to participate in the centuries-old Italian tradition of street painting during the 27th annual I Madonnari Festival.

Artist Cecelia Linayao travels around the United States and parts of Mexico to street art festivals but holds a special place for Memorial Day weekend in Santa Barbara.

The San Diego resident says it’s an incredible honor to be invited, considering the Santa Barbara festival is the first of its kind in North America.

She says she appreciates the opportunity for people attending the festival to interact with artists as they work.

“Especially when they’re kids,” Linayao said. “Here’s your next generation of if not artists, art appreciators.”

Encouraging youth participation in the arts strikes at the heart of the I Madonnari’s purpose in the community.

“Everything that’s made here goes directly to the schools,” said Father Charles Talley, pastor at the St. Barbara Parish at the Mission.

All proceeds of the I Madonnari benefit the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Talley says profits from food sales in the Italian marketplace and the 150 slots of pavement sold to more than 300 artists (and sponsors on behalf of artists) put art supplies in the hands of area children and educators.

Rusty Brown attends the festival every year and says he enjoys the fleeting aspect of the artwork.

“It’s amazing to see people put so much effort into something so temporary,” he said.

Artist Julio Jimenez shared his appreciation of the impermanent aspect of the chalk paintings.

“This medium exercises the feeling of detachment,” Jimenez said. “You spend all this time drawing but you know it’s going to go away. It’s a beautiful thing.”

The three-day festival concludes Monday as artists unveil their finished paintings at the Mission, 2201 Laguna St. Admission is free.

Noozhawk intern Jordon Niedermeier can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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