I Madonnari Brings Italian Chalk Art to Mission Santa Barbara for Three Days

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The I Madonnari The Italian Street Painting Festival will cover the asphalt at the Santa Barbara Mission’s main entrance for Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 2019.

The pandemic has delayed it from being a live in-person event for the past two years. Artists worked in their driveways and other public places, including the Santa Barbara Zoo and the Newschannel 3-12 patio on TV Hill, instead of the Mission.

Chalk art drawings from this weekend will come to life during the three-day event.

The grounds will also be full of food vendors, serving pizza, sausage sandwiches, grilled chicken and hot dogs. On stage there will be a variety of other music highlighted by classic Italian tunes. There will also be I Madonnari posters and art-related items for sale.

Large crowds are expected to roam the grounds, in part because it’s an outdoor event, which tends to be more palatable to those cautiously returning to normal post-pandemic.

The event benefits the Santa Barbara County Schools Children’s Creative Project. Executive Director Kai Tepper said the funds will help, “all of our arts programs in schools, we’re able to provide access to theater, dance, storytelling, visual arts, music.”

Combining the three-day weekend, warming weather and an established event with annual followers, Tepper said: “We are anticipating (crowds) due to the time lapse, the two-year hiatus. people are excited. We hear, pass, saying ‘are you ready yet?'”

Featured artist Dawn Morrison Wagner, “what I’m offering to festival-goers visiting this weekend is a collaboration of four of my Madonna pieces. I was actually cast for 2020 and have patiently waited until 2022 to be of back here at the mission. It’s quite an honor to have the place in front of the steps.”

Neighboring artist Carol Talley said, “I did it for about four or five years, I took a break, it’s been about 12 years since I did it. So once in a while.”

The early morning weather brought sea layer and humidity to the festival site. “If there’s just drizzle and humidity like it is now, it can blur the colors a bit, but they can come back,” said artist Sharyn Chan.

The weather for the festival will be in the upper 60s on Saturday and upper 70s on Sunday.

For more information, visit: Italian Street Painting Festival I Madonnari

Executive Director of Kai TepperChildren’s Creative Project
“…there’s no such thing as bringing the community back in person”

Some are seasoned artists, others are on their knees creating their images for the first time. In addition, there will be a space for children.

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