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HISTORY OF MADONNARI

For centuries artists (known in Italy as “Madonnari” or street painters) have painted beautiful images on the boulevards and squares of great cities, using the pavements as the street surfaces as their canvas. After World War II, scores of itinerant artists made their living from the unique art of street painting.  Currently prestigious cultural festivals in Europe, North and South America celebrate this traditional art form and have become popular attractions for artists, art lovers and people from all walks of life.

 

HISTORY OF THE PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL 

The Pasadena Chalk Festival began in 1993 after a summer intern at the Light Bringer Project attended a street painting festival in Paris and brought back her amazing pictures and observations. The first “Chalk on the Walk” took place at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall with over 150 visual artists participating in the first Los Angeles-area event. All proceeds went toward community arts programs and HIV/AIDS resources.  

In 2010, The Pasadena Chalk Festival was officially named the largest street painting festival by the Guinness World Record, welcoming more than 600 artists using over 25,000 sticks of chalk and drawing a crowd of more than 100,000 visitors in one weekend. In fact, previous festivals have attracted artists and design teams from many regions of the country, across Southern California, and virtually every Los Angeles-area community. Leading art schools, museums and cultural centers are also represented at the festival.

The Pasadena Chalk Festival is produced by Paseo Colorado and the Light Bringer Project, as a financial benefit for the nonprofit arts organization, raising proceeds for vital arts and learning programs in the schools and cultural opportunities for those of all ages. Each artist volunteers to 20 hours of his or her talent and energies to make this possible.

 

 A LOOK BACK AT CHALK

  • 1993 called “Chalk It Up”, 1st year at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall with 150 chalk artists participating
  • 1994 – Now in the 2nd year, over 200 artists now join the Chalk It Up festival at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall
  • 1995 – the Chalk It Up festival moved to Old Pasadena Historic District and raised funds for community arts programs
  • 1996 – Chalk It Up moved to West Hollywood Park (at Pacific Design Center).  Now over 300 artists participated raising dollars for community arts programs and homeless support services. Kurt Wenner, recognized as one of the world’s greatest street painters or “Master Madonnari,” served as guest centerpiece artist. The mural was featured in international publications as part of the celebrated `Absolut Artist` advertising series.
  • 1997 – The festival was now named “ABSOLUT CHALK” and moved to Universal CityWalk.  Over 350 artists participated and Absolut joined as the title sponsor. All the artists participated in creating a large centerpiece mural, each drawing in a square foot of space, to the outline of the signature Absolut bottle shape.
  • 1998 - ABSOLUT CHALK was moved back to Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall. 400 artists joined and Aboriginal artists from Brisbane, Australia and the continent’s Central Desert created the festival’s centerpiece mural in their ‘dreamscape’ dot motif.
  • 1999 - ABSOLUT CHALK at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall now had artists from Europe and Japan creating pastel chalk murals in support of arts education and community arts programs. The ‘Absolut Art Gallery’ on-site was established as another way to share artists’ works with the public.
  • 2000 - ABSOLUT CHALK at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall. Number of artists participating continues to rise above 400.
  • 2001, ABSOLUT CHALK moves to MIAMI BEACH.  At the request of title sponsor ABSOLUT, artists were culled from art schools and arts organizations to kick off the festival. A centerpiece design was drawn with artist Romero Britto, and several artists from Los Angeles made the trip to participate. 
  • 2002, ABSOLUT CHALK is back at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall. 650 artists return. 13 Tibetan Monks from the Gynto Vajrayana Center participated as the festival’s special guests. 
  • 2003, ABSOLUT CHALK at Centennial Square at Pasadena City Hall hosting over 650 artists, the largest in the festival’s history, created over 200 stunning street murals.  Award-winning chalk artists create their newest murals as part of this year’s centerpiece feature.
  • 2004, ABSOLUT CHALK moves to Paseo Colorado, Pasadena bringing almost 700 artists.  The festival took place in the at the center plaza of the shopping village and murals covered the entire concrete area.
  • 2005 - ABSOLUT CHALK now at Paseo Colorado, Pasadena.  Over 75,000 visitors and 10 million media hits regionally, made this event the biggest ever in its history.
  • 2006, now called PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL at Paseo Colorado, Pasadena.  Introduced the "Famous Fathers" award category, national sponsorships, record-breaking attendance and over 43 million media impressions.
  • 2007, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL at Paseo Colorado Pasadena, the first year to feature “Animation Alley,” a new section of pavement on the lower theatre court, dedicated to murals by animators and cartoonists. The grand prize was round trip jetBlue tickets. 
  • 2008 PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL at Paseo Colorado, Pasadena received support through a grant from the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Department. This also initiated a themed mural award from AT&T entitled “Connecting the World.” Light Bringer Project’s Room 13 artists from South Los Angeles joined the festival as an artist team.
  • 2009 PASADENA CHALK ESTIVAL at Paseo Colorado, Pasadena, held on Father’s Day weekend, incorporated another new section of pavement on the upper theatre court, entitled “Chalk of Fame.” This area was designated for murals of famous movie posters and characters, with a prize package from ArcLight Cinema. Additionally, the festival extended across Green street to incorporate more mural spaces in front of the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium. 
  • 2010 PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena. With the growth of the PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, festival organizers decided to attempt to set the GUINESS WORLD RECORD, for the “Largest Display of Chalk Pavement Art,” authenticating it’s claim to be “The World’s Largest Street Painting Festival.” Record-breaking attendance by old and new artists combined efforts to make this a historic year!
  • 2011 PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena, the 19th PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, now officially the world’s largest!  Record breaking attendance and over 600 artists gather to create a memorable event.
  • 2012, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena celebrates the 20th anniversary with a kick off Friday night concert on the steps of the Pasadena Civic Auditorium! Veteran artists were honored this year with special ribbons designating the number of years they’ve participated in our festival.
  • 2013, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena, the 21st annual event continued to see an increase in the number of artist participants and crowds which numbered in the thousands. For the first time, Green Street was closed on Sunday providing more walkability, and the incorporation of the classic car show on Father’s Day.
  • 2014, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena, the 22nd annual Pasadena Chalk Festival welcomed San Francisco visiting artist, Tom Matousek, who created an optical-cubist inspired chalk mural of famous Pasadenan, Jackie Robinson. 
  • 2015, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena, the festival enjoyed its widest and most diverse participation, including artists from out-of-state, and even as far away as Via de San Giovanni della Paglia, Italy!
  • 2016, PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL, Paseo Colorado, Pasadena – Let’s Make History!
  • COMING UP IN SUMMER 2017, 25TH ANNIVERSARY PASADENA CHALK FESTIVAL at Paseo Colorado!