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Thursday, March 21 , 2019, 3:27 pm | Mostly Cloudy 57º


Santa Barbara Chalks Up Another Artful I Madonnari Street Painting Festival

31st annual festival transforms Santa Barbara Mission’s plaza into giant canvas for artists, both amateur and professional


The hands caught the attention of those walking by the front of the Santa Barbara Mission.

The artist, barefoot and covered head to toe in chalk, bounced her head to the music from her ear buds and swiped soft hues along the pavement canvas.

She scanned a reference image and lifted her head to view the result, then rubbed in the pastel chalk with her fingers.

Artist Yuliana Salazar was taking advantage of three things: the 31st annual I Madonnari Italian street painting festival, enjoying the summer-like weather and meeting local artists.

“The festival is a fun experience, and it gives people an opportunity to showcase their work,” the 22-year-old said. “It’s also great to see other artists and interact with them.”

Drawing in the street was encouraged in Santa Barbara. The street painting festival marked a weekend tradition of allowing about 150 local artists to unleash their creativity on the pavement by the Mission.

Madonnari, or street painters, transform public squares using pastel chalk to create colorful large-scale images.

According to organizers, Santa Barbara’s festival is the first of its kind in North America to bring the art of street painting from the festival originated in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

The space adjacent to Salazar’s was transformed into an elaborate composition of a young man smiling from ear to ear and wearing a camera around his neck.

The Multimedia Arts & Design (MAD) Academy from Santa Barbara High School dedicated the space in honor of Connor O’Keefe, a MAD Academy student who died in March after being struck by a train.

Nearby, this year’s featured artist, Meredith Morin, was putting the finishing touches on her 12-by-16-foot image of Mother Teresa.

Attendees standing on the Mission’s steps experienced a bird’s eye view of the completed art.

The Rhode Island School of Design graduate has been participating as an artist at I Madonnari since 1992.

The event also displayed an expanded area for children to sketch street paintings.

It was a vibrant affair, with kids drawing on the asphalt near established artists working on their intricate masterpieces.

The day also included live music, refreshments and an Italian market offering delicious cuisine on the Mission lawn.

Proceeds from festival sales help support art programs in schools through the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Office of Education.

The free festival continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at the Santa Barbara Mission, 2201 Laguna St.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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