Street painting has a long tradition in Western Europe and the artists who draw with chalk on the sidewalk are called "madonnari," or "Madonna painters," because traditionally they reproduced icons of the Madonna, though I'm not sure how a painting like this meets that description:
There are some fifty such festivals worldwide now, but Santa Barbara was the first such street painting faire to come to the United States. Artists apply to participate and are chosen by the committee. Some 400 professional artists, and young people search for sponsors (it's a fund raiser for the Children's Creative Project, which brings arts education to schools in the county), get assigned a spot in front of historic Mission Santa Barbara and over the three days of Memorial Day weekend, they produce their artwork, many of them working from drawings divided into squares to be easily recreated on the ground in chalk.
All within the backdrop of the lovely mission chapel....
...while hundreds of spectators walk around looking at all the paintings,
or listen to the music playing on the grass, or have a snack, browse the souvenir stands, or just sit and enjoy the lovely day (on days when it's not overcast and threatening rain!).
I had contacted our friends Craig and Roy before we went to the faire. Roy is the music director for the Mission and I thought they might be around. They were. We visited briefly (and we congratulated them on their impending nuptials), and Roy told us about a concert his men's choral group was giving at 6, so we planned to return later that evening.
We kind of cut short our time at the Mission, in deference to Brianna's impending feeding time, though she was an angel all the time we were wandering around. We picked up huge Italian sausage sandwiches to bring back to the house for lunch. I even got a bit of a smile,
a funny face,
a tear or two,
and finally outright boredom with the whole scene.
We finally pulled ourselves away so Bri and her Mommy could get some rest and we came back to Alice & Joe's house to get them and take them to the concert back at the mission.
The concert was brief but lovely. It had been a long time since I'd heard "church music" and afterwards, Craig and Roy let us into the private courtyard to see an amazing frieze by Italian Renaissance sculptor, Andrea della Robbia, which someone found packed away in crates in the attic of the mission. It dates to 1522 and is in perfect condition, so it has been set up in the courtyard of the Mission and soon for a mere $35 you can take the tour that will let you see it, but...heh heh...we know friends in high places and got to see it for free.
We finally said goodbye to Roy and Craig and wandered around the paintings a bit more (now that the crowds had thinned). I will be posting lots of photos on Flickr, but want to wait until I get home to do it.
We ended up at Harry's Bar & Grill for dinner...and who do we see when we walk in the door? Craig and Roy and two friends of theirs. Then the hostess seated us right next to their table, so we were able to kibbitz during the meal.
Now we're at home and I'm sure that I've walked my mile for the day, with lots of fun stuff to see, to hear, and to eat!