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 fourth annual Madonnari Arts Festival, September 7-10, 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 travelled 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 first three days of the festival (September 7, 8 and 9, 2018). The art is still on display Monday, September 10 during which Segway art tours will be available through Segs in the City.
The theme for this year’s Madonnari Festival in Baltimore is “Respect.” Both professional and student artists – local, national and international – will become i madonnari for the celebration, creating breathtaking 2-D and 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. Baltimore’s own Maestro Madonnaro and muralist, Michael Kirby, will also give a lecture on the Madonnari tradition of street painting during the festival.
The four-day event will also feature Italian food, wine, music, theater and dance, with events taking place both outdoors and indoors. Festival highlights also include the PNC Children’s Chalk Center, where young artists can express their creativity alongside the masters; bocce lessons at the bocce court on Stiles Street; concerts and performances; the Baltimore Museum of Art Outpost’s onsite mobile museum; and more.
About the Artists
Professional and student artists will become i madonnari for the celebration. 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. The street art will be judged by professional artists.
Click here to read a Q&A with Madonnari Festival artist, Ever Galvez.
Local, national and international performing artists will participate in a series of indoor and outdoor events sponsored by the Little Italy restaurants. 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.
Other performing artists found inside and outside Little Italy’s restaurants include actors from the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, under the direction of Sally Boyett, Artistic Director, performing scenes from their production of Moliere’s “The Miser.” Visitors will also be delighted by roving opera singers, a short-form magic act, a cappella ensembles and live music concerts.
Entertainment for All Ages
PNC Children’s Chalk Center, a family-friendly Madonnari arts area, hosts children’s arts and crafts, stilt walkers from Big Whimsy and face painters. Free chalk will be provided by PNC Bank to young artists for the opportunity to draw on the street alongside the professionals.
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.
For more information, visit www.littleitalymadonnari.com.