I Madonnari Street Painting Festival Returns Under New Leadership

Source: Santa Barbara County Education Office

The community is invited to celebrate the 36th anniversary of the I Madonnari Street Painting Festival this Memorial Day Weekend. The in-person festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 28, 29, and 30 at the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

I Madonnari, the first festival of its kind in North America to present the performance art of street painting, is produced by and raises vital funding for the Children’s Creative Project (CCP), a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

This year’s festival will celebrate local champion of the arts Kai Tepper’s first year as the new Executive Director for Children’s Creative Project and honor founder and former Executive Director, Kathy Koury for her 44 years of service.

The festival features over 100 street paintings drawn live with chalk pastels on the pavement in front of the Mission. Live music and food market will be featured on the Mission lawn throughout the three-day event, with new local vendors such as the United States of Espresso, Dave’s Dogs, and Rascal’s Vegan Pop-Up, 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. All proceeds from sales benefit the Children’s Creative Project.

Music performances include several local favorites such as Mezcal Martini, Jackson Gilles and several exceptional youth performances such as SB Piano Boys and local high school jazz bands.

An expanded area for children to create street paintings will be located at the west side of the Mission. Throughout the three-day event, over 600 Kids’ Squares can be purchased for $15, which includes a box of chalk. 

On-site parking will be available this year for $5.00 per car.  

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

This year’s festival is special for many reasons. In addition to having an energized in-person return after a two year hiatus, CCP has partnered with a national arts collaboration, the Art of Mass Gatherings, to host a one-day symposium on Saturday, May 29 in tandem with the festival.  

The Art of Mass Gatherings is a traveling national program that uses festivals as classrooms to activate an arts-focused approach to community resilience and emergency preparedness. It invites artists, event producers, and emergency professionals to come together to share knowledge and practices for enhancing the safety, accessibility, and sustainability of large gatherings. The event is free to attend for the first 50 participants thanks to a grant from Performing Arts Readiness. Lunch is included and accommodations are available by request upon registration.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity to showcase local mavericks leading important change in the event world and learn from nationally recognized experts at the same time” says Elly Iverson, Santa Barbara event producer and liaison for the project. 

Featured guest speakers include Marcos Vargas from the Fund for Santa Barbara, Creative Director Alfredo Peralta, filmmaker Paul Matthew, and representatives from local emergency management. Event highlights include an accessibility site walk, event electrics training from author and certified entertainment electrician Richard Cadena, a hands-on eco-friendly art workshop with Julie Schneiderman of Stik N Stuk, and a conversation about the role of the arts and events in a future shaped by climate change.

Registration information can be found at: https://events.humanitix.com/the-art-of-mass-gatherings-in-santa-barbara

The festival is made possible by the generosity of many local individuals, foundations and businesses.  The year’s top sponsors include Bella Vista Designs, Challenge Asphalt, Daniel and Mandy Hochman, Loreto Plaza Shopping Center, Mosher Foundation, The Berry Man, and Village Properties. Additional sponsors include: American Riviera Bank, Boys Charity League, COX Communication, Community West Bank, Haagen Printing/Typecraft Inc., Heritage House, KEYT NewChannel3, Marborg Industries, Montecito Bank and Trust, National Charity League, NS Ceramics Inc., the Notre Dame School, V3 Printing, Santa Barbara Beautiful, Santa Barbara Bird Sanctuary, Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, Weidl Construction and Bank of America.  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, Warner Events Management and Santa Barbara County Education Office for their operational and in-kind support.  

Limited sponsorship opportunities will be available until Friday, May 6, 2022. Information can be found here: https://ccp.sbceo.org/i-madonnari/be-a-sponsor

This year’s featured artist, Dawn Morrison Wagner, produced her first street painting back in 1988 during the I Madonnari festival and immediately fell in love with the art form. She is proud to say that she has participated in at least one festival per year, over the last 35 years. Dawn has been featured around the country, won many awards, and her art has been used in commercial and promotional work. Dawn’s street art has evolved from specializing in classic reproductions, such as pieces that honor the art form’s Italian origins as well as her ancestry, to more contemporary perspective pieces that utilize the 3-dimensional relationship between the viewer and the pavement. Like many of her Renaissance idols, Dawn has spent her life combining Art and Science.  She completed an Art Minor while pursuing her Physics and Engineering degrees, and continued to travel to festivals while working in the Aerospace, Semiconductor, and now advanced imaging industries. Dawn has enjoyed sharing her love of the medium with other artists through chalk art workshops, organizing children’s festivals during her boys’ elementary school years, and with the audience that comes to watch her pieces emerge from the pavement.  Dawn is dedicating this year’s piece in memory of her father, who was always her biggest fan. For more information on Dawn, follow her on Instagram: @madonnara, #madonnaradesigns, web: http://www.madonnara.com.

On Monday, May 30, at 12:00 PM, CCP will host a ceremony on the Mission steps to introduce and thank the major festival sponsors and featured artist Dawn Morrison Wagner as her street painting is concluded.


Written by SBCEO

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. Learn more at sbceo.org

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