Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

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By Diane Graham

Saturday, I took my father to see the amazing and inspiring artwork at this year's I Madonnari. Wish I hadn't. And then was immediately thankful that I'd made my first visit with my son on Tuesday, the first day of viewing after the paintings were complete. What a difference just a couple of days make. 

On Tuesday, all the paintings were in excellent condition and I took about 50 photos. In contrast, yesterday every painting had been ruined--make that vandalized. Each had evidence of shoe treads all over, and many looked to be purposely defaced. It made me cry. 

At first, I jumped to the all-too-common conclusion that teenagers were the culprits, but I've changed my mind. In the short time we were at the mission, dozens of tourists were deposited by a tour bus. They commenced to scurry all over the plaza with total disregard for where they were walking, criss-crossing back and forth over the paintings. With cameras held high, they were NOT capturing photos of the art, but rather of each other and the mission building. I was appalled and totally taken aback that a group of adults could be so uniformly oblivious and disrespectful. 

Maybe the tour bus driver could have provided some direction and guidelines for grown-up behavior. Maybe the festival sponsors could have posted a few signs asking visitors to walk around the art and not on it. The experience was so saddening, so frustrating, so unbelievable that we had to quickly leave. 

Next year, we'll go early, before a few people ruin the experience for many.

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luckyvenus Jun 05, 2018 01:10 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

Could it be that I Madonnari has overgrown its location? Many of us were overwhelmed with the bus loads, tents over-filling the beautiful location, the inability to see the art because others were swarming on you, the shouting, and the dogs going potty. Frankly, it no longer felt fun or secure. Loads of locals left quickly. What if we moved it to Earl Warren, for example? At least we could park and feel safe. We could charge $2 and give it to the Mission &/or Salvation Army. And no animals near the art, please. Thanks for your consideration. - HAB

MissBleu Jun 04, 2018 06:35 PM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

Concur with BIGDD. Had the OP’s suggested title and photo been used
the point the OP was making would have remained clear. Walking over instead of
around even temporary art is rather unnecessary disrespectful cluelessness.

a-1528161333 Jun 04, 2018 06:15 PM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

I agree with OceanDrew. I think a committee to protect the Art for a week or two should easily happen here in Santa Barbara. I too think it's a token of our Community's respect to protect them for at least a week if Mother Nature agrees too. I loved the reference to flowers too. Let's make this happen. So many people never get to admire the artwork because the 3-day weekend crowds are unbearable. Especially for our Seniors and folks with Challenges.

a-1528151729 Jun 04, 2018 03:35 PM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

The iMadonnari art is like sandcastle art. Meant to be ephemeral. Undoubtedly many visitors newly arrived post-art festival didn't even realize the chalk art was any big deal. I am happy we have The Old Mission here. I am glad visitors enjoy its majesty.

oceandrew Jun 04, 2018 11:33 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

Why not reach out to the padres at the mission and request they don't take down the rope barriers for an entire week to protect the chalk paintings. It'd be interesting to hear their perspective on it since it's on their front porch.

BigDD Jun 04, 2018 11:26 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

Thanks everyone for your comments. A week out didn't think anyone would care. You've all reinforced my initial reaction (and my suggested headline to edhat) that "Go Early or Not At All" is the best advice for future visits. Wish edhat had included the photo that I attached--one of my absolute favorites of the large format paintings--that had no evidence of drizzle damage, but was largely obscured by all the bike tire and shoe tread marks.

TomTomTomTom Jun 04, 2018 10:33 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

The SB Mission is on every tour. Whether its a bus load of people or a scooter or two, they all go to the Mission to gawk at the beautiful remains from the decades of murder and pillaging by the Spanish conquistadors and misguided, pious men. I am positive that none of these visitors learns of the real story of The Mission or knows the truth behind the people, the location or that there is a once-a-year art festival. Personally I like the art after a week or two of time. The decay makes the art look more human.

mtndriver Jun 04, 2018 08:08 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

The awareness of the impermanence of the chalk art is part of the experience. And the weather often plays a part in the damage--and last Wednesday there was actually measurable rainfall--.12 inches in that area.

420722 Jun 04, 2018 08:00 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

I totally feel for the OP, unfortunately those tourist weren’t there to see chalk drawings, they were there to see a 300 year old Mission so they were oblivious to the art. Sad indeed but that’s the world we live in.

Shasta Guy Jun 04, 2018 07:46 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

There was a very heavy fog drizzle shortly after the festival which aged the paintings rather quickly this year. It wasn't just thoughtless people trampling things, although that's always a factor every year. I always wish people were more respectful of the paintings, but they're not. Those paintings are like delicate flowers which need to be enjoyed the day they bloom.

pstarSR Jun 04, 2018 07:03 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

As someone that used to do a square with my family. what the original post was stating is something that I always felt was an issue. regardless if the festival is over, you still see someone took a lot of time to product a piece of artwork on the ground. usually in very HOT sun, and with VERY painful fingers and knees. So I think for the original comment, yes its disrespectful. VERY disrespectful. I notice bike treads, shoe prints and lots of other "marks" every year. Some people dont care. I cant say if its locals or tourists though, I venture to guess its a combination of both.

Ehdat Jun 04, 2018 06:09 AM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

After the festival they all get trampled and or washed away, dont blame anyone after the festival is over.

a-1528083712 Jun 03, 2018 08:41 PM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork

I learned awhile back that you can't count on the chalk paintings lasting even a day. We often have drizzle, and some years ago vehicles had driven over them by mid-week. Fleeting beauty.

a-1528083172 Jun 03, 2018 08:32 PM
Tourists Ruin I Madonnari Artwork did get really foggy, thick as Pea Soup, or it was actually thick drizzle, either one they got wet.

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