The street painters had been working all day by the time we arrived. After grabbing fish tacos and bean burritos, we met our friends near the ska band that was performing, and watched some funky dancing before walking around to view the art.
Street painting was first recorded in Europe in the 16th century. In Italy, the artists are called madonnari because they often represented the Madonna in their pictures.
The madonnari were itinerant artists. Aware of festival and holy days in each province and town, they traveled to join in the festivities. They created images in public squares and in front of the local church using bits of broken roof tiles, charcoal, and white chalk. Passersby would often leave a bit of bread or olive oil for the artist along with an occasional coin. After the festivities or with the first rain, both the painting and the painter would vanish...
In 1972 the first International Street Painting Competition was held in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy. The goal of the competition was to record and publicize the work of (those thought to be) the last practitioners of this traditional art form. The eldest painters were already in their 90s. The 1972 festival resulted in national recognition of the validity of the art form, causing a new generation of street painters to emerge. Within a decade these artists were using commercial and handmade pastels to create copies of well-known masterpiece.
For you owl lovers (you know who you are!), this was a piece done by former students of my husband...
About half the space was reserved by adult artists, and the rest reserved by local schools for their art students.
It was easy to tell which ones the kids appreciated!
After admiring the artwork, we headed over to the bookstore. Can you walk by a bookstore without going in and buying something?? We could not.
And then it was time for ice cream!
Thank you to our friends for the invitation to Via Arte!