Q&A with Jennifer Chaparro

A conversation with Madonnari Festival artist, Jennifer Chaparro.

Are you a professional artist? How long have you been making art either professionally or as a hobby?

I have been an artist all my life. I knew from a very early age that I would do something art related with my life. I got a degree from UCLA in Design and then worked for many years in advertising. I discovered street painting about 15 years ago and fell in love with it. I have been a professional street painter for about 9 years. I also work as the Communications Director for the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, Florida.

What is your preferred medium? Is chalk art new to you, or have you worked in that medium many times before?

I started with watercolor many years ago, and disliked pastels, until I started working large on the pavement. Now I love it. I also do murals in acrylic, but prefer pastels because of their blendability. I estimate I have created about 125 large street paintings in the last 15 years.

In what way(s) is making chalk art different than other types of art? Do you find it to be more challenging? Easier? More exciting?

I enjoy the challenge of street painting because every time it is so different – the surface, the light, the art, the crowd, etc. It is a performance art, and the interaction with the crowd is very important. It is also very physical and dirty, compared to painting in a studio or working on a computer. I enjoy the physicality of it.

Have you participated in street art festivals before?

Yes, I started at the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival in Florida with my teenage daughter as something fun to do together. My daughter, Mercedes Chaparro, is now 28 and will be working with me again at the Baltimore event. We live far from each other, and love having a chance to chalk together again, even if it’s only once a year.

What will you be making at Baltimore’s Madonnari Festival this year? What was your inspiration for the piece(s) you will make?

We will be doing a piece that is a combination of traditional art, but in a 3D anamorphic format. I like the challenge of traditional art, but the 3D aspect is what many people like to see at these festivals, because it is so unique.

What are you most excited for at this year’s festival?

I love the food in the Little Italy area, plus it’s a nice event to attend. Seeing the other artists and what they will create is always great. Most of the artists all know each other and are like a family or tribe. We learn and inspire each other, and that’s one of the best things about being a street painter.

As a participant, why do you believe people should come out to this event?

This event is a very unique opportunity to see this art form in person and talk to the artists. 3D art especially looks very different in person than in a photo. It is also one of the few times that you can see the process of the art, and I encourage people to visit more than once, so they can see the progress.

Click here to find out more about the Madonnari Festival.