Sarasota Chalk Festival
UPCOMING EVENT: October 28 – 31, 2022 International Chalk Festival, ‘A SPIRITED Museum in Motion’ at the Venice Airport, Venice, FL USA.
Once a year, you the spectator are afforded the opportunity to become an integral part of the fine art creative process. From start to finish, you can witness the largest gathering of renowned pavement artists perform using the road surface as a canvas to develop oversized masterpieces in chalk.
This performance art form, as we know it today, is thought to have originated in Italy during the 16th century even though people have been making markings on the ground forever. These Italian artists called “Madonnari” went into remission after the Second World War. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the remaining small number of Madonnari got the recognition they deserved with the start of the International Madonnari Festival in Grazie di Curtatone in Northern Italy.
In the USA, Robert Guillemin, known as “Sidewalk Sam,” became inspired by the Italians and took to the pavement in Massachusetts during the 1970s. He remained passionate about the art form until his death last year.
In the 1980’s, an American artist named Kurt Wenner, while trying to make a living studying classical drawing in Italy, became the first American madonnari. He went on to invent the 3D pavement art which was documented by the National Geographic Society in 1985. He started the first festival in the USA, and along with the festival in Italy, was instrumental in transforming the art into a worldwide phenomenon.
Starting in 2010 and every year since the Chalk Festival features the most 3D pavement paintings ever created in one location. Also in 2010, it became the first international pavement art festival in the USA.
The artists who create these 3D pavement paintings invite visitors during the festival to step directly onto their artwork–becoming a part of the illusion in photos. These artists come up with intricate ideas that make images and the ground appear to dip inward or rise above when viewed from a particular vantage point.
In addition to the pavement artists who travel from all over the world, the festival organization invites anyone, of any skill level, to sign up as an artist and work alongside the professionals, creating their own pavement paintings. No other cultural organization mixes the most renown with beginners better than this festival, giving novice pavement and student artists a truly unique opportunity.
Other performing artists are invited to sign up and help enhance the theme. Other activities include the Pavement Music Festival, Food Trucks, Beer Gardens, Vendors, and family fun interactive art areas inspiring the ‘Young and Young-at-Heart’ to create impromptu mini-masterpieces or scribbles while visiting the festival.
The Chalk Festival is celebrating its 16th season. After six seasons in Burns Square, a historic district in downtown Sarasota, it moved to Venice in 2014. Managed entirely by volunteers (even the director, Denise Kowal, is a volunteer), this 501c3 non-profit organization strives to bring a global community of culture enthusiasts together who value the work involved to make and share memorable experiences.
Winning Sarasota Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Best Event in Sarasota County 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and SRQ Magazine’s Readers Choice Award for Best of SRQ Local 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2022 it is no surprise that during any given year, the festival attracted upward of 200,000 visitors during its 6+ days of festivities in Sarasota and upward of 50,000 visitors during its 4 days of festivities with an estimated economic impact in the millions.