I Madonnari Street Painting Festival Returns for 37th Year

By the Children’s Creative Project

IMadonnari, Santa Barbara’s most picturesque festival and the first of its kind in North America, returns for its 37th year this Memorial Day weekend. The beloved community event – a fundraiser for vital arts programs in county schools – brings live music, local cuisine, and dozens of artists working from dawn until dusk to transform the Santa Barbara Mission plaza into a veritable walking museum of art.

The event, which takes place from 10 am – 6 pm on May 27, 28, and 29 and is free and open to the public, is the major annual fundraiser of the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Originally inspired by the International Street Painting Competition in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy, I Madonnari features over 100 street paintings drawn live with chalk pastels by renowned regional artists as well as other art enthusiasts, including children, families, businesses, and schools. 

Street paintings by Lorelle Miller


This year’s featured artist, Lorelle Miller, is nationally known for her work as a “Madonnara,” or street painter. Over the last 24 years, she has been an invited and featured artist in festivals throughout California and others in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Norway. Her highly anticipated creation this year: a larger-than-life mural directly beneath the Mission steps.

An expanded area for children to create street paintings will be located on the west side of the Mission. Kids’ Squares can be purchased for $15, which includes a box of chalk. Support for the Kids’ Squares area is made possible through the generous support of Village Properties as well as from the Mosher Foundation. 

Live music and a food market will be featured on the Mission lawn throughout the three-day event, with local vendors such as the United States of Espresso, Dave’s Dogs, Elubia’s Kitchen, and Nimita’s Cuisine, as well as traditional favorites like the much-loved lemon-rosemary roasted chicken, pizza, gelato, and more produced by the CCP Board of Directors with volunteers from National Charity League and Boys Charity League. 

Music performances include several local favorites such as Mezcal Martini, Jason Libbs and the Congregation featuring Jackson Gillies, Brasscals, and Rent Party Blues Band. The three days will include several exceptional youth performances from emerging bands and local high school jazz bands as well.  

All proceeds from sales benefit programs of the Children’s Creative Project such as their Artist in Residency and Touring Artist programs which bring high-quality arts education to public schools across the county. CCP is dedicated to supporting students through equitable, inclusive and culturally relevant programs that uplift all students.

New to this year’s festival will be a grand entrance to help ensure a safe and exciting experience for all attendees. The grand entrance will be the single point of entry into the festival and Mission. Tour busses will not be permitted to park along the red curb sidewalk leading up to the mission and are encouraged to park along Los Olivos in the designated reserved parking for busses. ADA passenger drop-off and pick-up is allowed along the red curb area. Free parking for the festival can be found at Old Mission Santa Barbara or in the surrounding neighborhood.

CCP would also like to celebrate and honor two very special individuals and longtime friends of the organization and community at large: Gloria Liggett and Jeff Davis. Liggett was a long-time artist and community activist. Her family has dedicated a square in her honor which will be painted by a local artist. Davis was not only a vibrant member of the beloved band Mezcal Martini but also supplied eco-friendly products for the festival over many years. Mezcal Martini will be taking the stage at the festival on Monday afternoon.

The festival is made possible by the generosity of many local individuals, foundations, and businesses. The year’s top sponsors include Michael and Nora Hurley, The Berry Man, Bella Vista Designs, Daniel and Mandy Hochman, Loreto Plaza Shopping Center, Mosher Foundation, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Santa Barbara Bowl, Village Properties, and Weidl Construction. Additional sponsors include: Boys Team Charity League, COX Communication, Community West Bank, Haagen Printing/Typecraft Inc., Fransiscan Inn & Suites, Ken Kirkpatrick, KEYT NewChannel3, Marborg Industries, Montecito Bank and Trust, National Charity League, NS Ceramics Inc.,Pacific Beverage Company, V3 Printing, Santa Barbara Autowerks, Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Santa Barbara Puerto Vallarta Sister City, Thorlabs, Veronique Chevalier, Ventura Party Rental, Voice Magazine. Children’s Creative Project is grateful and thanks the Old Mission for hosting I Madonnari. The organization would also like to thank and acknowledge Elly Iverson with EJI Experiences, Warner Anderson with WA Event Management, Bluestar Parking, Marborg Industries, Miller Security, Scott Hunter with Safety Consulting Services, and Santa Barbara County Education Office for their operational and in-kind support.  

The public can support CCP and the I Madonnari festival by making a donation at https://ccp.sbceo.org/donate.

More information about I Madonnari can be found at: https://ccp.sbceo.org/i-madonnari/welcome

Check out this year’s T-Shirt:  https://ccp.sbceo.org/2023-tshirt-1


Written by Anonymous

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  1. Regrettably, I know that I can’t attend the festival this year, but I did the next best thing: after doing my volunteer job in the adjacent Rose Garden, I walked over to the Mission plaza and had a really good time wandering around and seeing artists at work as they prepared their asphalt “canvases” and talking with them about their subjects–giraffes and dog, friends. This was my first time seeing the beginning of their amazing process as they blocked out in chalk a grid or pattern to fill with color. I’ll have to use my imagination this year to see their finished work–each will be a masterpiece!

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