Look for them on any sunny day, sprawled on the pavement, brows knit in concentration, clothing, face and fingers smeared with a pastel rainbow of colored dust.
Today, they're schoolchildren chalking on the sidewalk. But centuries ago, these free-spirited street painters went by a more romantic name: i madonnari.
This weekend at Cal State Fullerton, the original art of street painting will be revived in Festa dell' Arte, a festival featuring works of 100 amateur and professional artists, live entertainment and Italian food. The free family event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
According to the Festa organizers, street painting first became popular in 16th-Century Italy. Artists often created religious images of the Madonna (hence the name i madonnari , or the Madonna painters).
Proceeds from this first of what is to become an annual event, sponsored by the CSUF Arts Alliance and the YWCA of North Orange County, will benefit the Y's youth projects and the Arts Alliance's scholarship program for local high school students. This weekend's event is patterned after the popular I Madonnari street painting festival in Santa Barbara, which last year attracted thousands of visitors and over 200 artists from across the country. A much smaller festival was staged last spring in San Clemente by a local bank.
Festa dell' Arte will be held in a parking lot next to the Cal State Fullerton visual arts complex. Artists will use handmade French pastels, favored for their depth of color and wind resistance, and may choose any theme, as long as they keep in mind "the family-oriented nature of the event," said Carlson.
Members of the public who would like to dabble a bit themselves may do so too. For $10, children or adults can rent pastels and a small patch of pavement to create their own works of art.
When they're not ogling the art, visitors can sample a variety of regional food at a colorful Italian marketplace. Live entertainment, ranging from barbershop quartets, mimes and jugglers to CSUF jazz and guitar ensembles will be offered both days.
Festa dell' Arte.
Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 6 and 7, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton. In the parking lot next to the Visual Arts complex.
From the northbound Orange Freeway exit at Nutwood Avenue, proceed to State College Boulevard and turn right. Parking lot D is off State College.
Admission is free.
Where to call
(714) 871-4488 (weekdays only).