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i Madonnari… a unique 3-day Italian festival celebrated at the Santa Barbara mission

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

i Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Mission Plaza in Santa Barbara during 3-day festival.

i Madonnari, or street painters, transform the Mission Plaza in Santa Barbara using pastels on pavement to create 150 vibrant and colorful, large scale images. Santa Barbara is the first to bring this romantic festival to the western hemisphere from their sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

On their hands and knees artists work in the hot sun at Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, Santa Barbara, San Rafael. San Luis Obispo and Mission Viejo, CA. With pigment-stained fingers the artists illuminate the pavement to praise God. There are 30-something American college students, 80-year old Italian artisans, teenage Latino tag and graffiti painters; a diverse group of international artists who use chalk and pastels to create large-scale sacred paintings on streets, sidewalks and piazzas around the world.

i Madonnari – so-called because traditionally they painted the Madonna and other holy images – are believed to have roots that stretch back to the Middle Ages when street painters traveled from town to town following the church’s calendar of holidays and saint’s feasts.

Today, in Santa Barbara, there are scenes to praise God and other scenes as well including paintings of families, famous artwork, people and their dogs, scenes of incomparable beauty and ones of laughter and nostalgia.

i Madonnari is a feast for the eyes and a twang on the heart strings. It’s all about feeling good, enjoying art and life. Festival hours are 10-6 daily, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. Admission is free.

Click here to see i Modinnari video: Modinari Blog Video

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