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I Madonnari brings Italian chalk art to the Santa Barbara Mission for three days

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The I Madonnari Italian street painting festival will cover the asphalt at the front entrance of the Santa Barbara Mission for Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 2019.

The pandemic delayed it from being a live in-person event in the last 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 at the Mission.

The chalk art drawings this weekend will come alive during the three day event.

The grounds will also be full of food vendors, serving pizza, sausage sandwiches, barbecued chicken and hot dogs. On the 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 stroll the grounds, in part because it is an outside event, which tend to be more acceptable for those cautiously returning to normalcy after the pandemic.

The event benefits the Children's Creative Project for Santa Barbara County Schools. Executive Director Kai Tepper said, the funds will help, "all of our arts programs in the schools, we are able to provide access to theatre to dance to storytelling, visual arts, music."

Combining the three-day weekend, warming weather and an established event with annual followers, Tepper said, "we anticipate (crowds) because of the lapse, the two year hiatus. People are excited.  We are hearing, walking by, saying 'are you ready yet?'"

Featured Artist Dawn Morrison Wagner, "what I am offering the festival people who visit  this weekend is a collaboration of  four of my Madonna  pieces. I was actually picked for 2020 and have been patiently waiting for 2022 to be back here at the mission. It is quite an honor to have the spot in front of the steps."

Nearby artist Carol Talley said, "I did it for about four or five years took a break, it's been about 12 years since I've done it.  so off and on for awhile."

The morning weather has been bringing the marine layer and moisture to the festival site. "If it is just drizzly and damp like it is now it might blur the colors a little bit but they can come back," said artist Sharyn Chan.

Weather for the festival will be in the upper 60's on Saturday and upper 70's on Sunday.

For more information go to: I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival

Kai TepperChildren's Creative project Executive Director
"...   there's nothing like bringing the community back in person  "

Some are veteran artists, some are on their knees crafting their images for the first time.   Plus there will be a children's area.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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