Madonnari Arts Festival

The Italian art festival returns to Baltimore September 6-8, 2019

This fall, the streets of Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood come alive with color, beauty and tradition. The city will welcome approximately 50 visual artists to the fifth annual Madonnari Arts Festival, September 6-8, who will bring their talents to South High and Stiles Streets.

The History of Madonnari

The inspiration for this exciting event – the art of street painting – comes from Italy, in a tradition that dates back to the 16th century. Historically, i madonnari were wandering artists who traveled from village to village to create paintings at festivals and on holy days to earn a living. Many of the artists depicted religious images in their work, thus earning their name.

A similar festival was first introduced to the United States in the 1980s in Santa Barbara, California; today, Madonnari festivals have become a common celebration throughout America and the world. Modern artists use the street as their canvas and chalk pastels as their medium, creating traditional and expressionistic works of art that are one-of-a-kind and out-of-this-world.

Baltimore’s Own Madonnari

Observe artists creating chalk paintings on Little Italy’s South High Street during the three days of the festival (September 6, 7 and 8, 2019). If the weather cooperates, the art will still be on display Monday, September 9 during which Segway art tours will be available through Little Italy’s Segs in the City.

The theme for this year’s Madonnari Festival in Baltimore is “Courage.” Both professional and student artists – local, national and international – will become i madonnari for the celebration, creating breathtaking 2-D and anamorphic 3-D chalk pastel art directly on the streets of Little Italy that will be judged by professional artists. Prizes in two categories – traditional and contemporary – will be awarded and a separate prize will be awarded to student artists. Baltimore’s own Maestro Madonnaro and muralist, Michael Kirby, will be on hand during the festival, providing lectures and workshops on the Madonnari tradition of street painting.

About the Artists

Little Italy proudly hosts artists from around the globe, including Flavio Coppola, Francesca Arsi, Andrea Starinieri, Tiberio Mazzocchi, and Baltimore’s own Maestro Madonnaro, Michael Kirby. Anthony Cappetto, known for combining 4D technology with 3D art, will also be featured among the exciting roster of participating visual artists. Teams of art students from local high schools, Baltimore School for the Arts, Concordia Prep and Bel Air High School, will also create street paintings.

Click here to read a Q&A with Madonnari Festival artist, Ever Galvez.

Entertainment for All Ages

In addition to the street painting and live jazz on the soundstage, the three-day event will also feature al fresco dining on Italian food, wine and craft beer, music, street performers, a Children’s Chalk Center, where young artists can express their creativity alongside the masters; and bocce lessons at the bocce court on Stiles Street. Visitors will also be delighted by roving opera singers, a cappella ensembles, magicians, clowns, stilt walkers and buskers. Laura Norris, founder and instructor of Mando for Kids, will lead her young Baltimore City musicians as they play Italian and contemporary music on bowlback mandolins. These emerging artists will be followed by the extraordinary musicians who comprise the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet. New to the Festival this year is an outdoor market on Stiles Street where artisans and artists offer for sale prints and paintings, woodwork, metalwork and textile furnishings, accessories and wearable art.

The Madonnari Arts Festival and all events taking place throughout the event are free and open to the public. The festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

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