Chalk Festival

Do you have questions or comments about the Chalk Festival? Contact Nan Eisenberg at 216-707-2483 or email commartsinfo [at] clevelandart [dot] org.

A History of Street Painting
Chalk Festival artistic director Robin VanLear reviewed the history of street painting before the 20th annual Chalk Festival in 2009.

The tradition began in 16th-century Italy, when beggars used chips of charcoal from market braziers to create pictures on the pavement in the market plazas outside village churches. As untrained artists, they chose to replicate the churches’ paintings of the Madonna and were dubbed I Madonnari, painters of the Madonna. For centuries these itinerant artists traveled throughout Europe following the calendar of Holy Days. World War II took a toll on their population and the tradition was in danger of dying out, until, in 1972, the Italian village of Gracie di Curtatone held a festival to celebrate this fragile art.

Still, the I Madonnari tradition might have remained one of copying famous Renaissance paintings were it not for California artist Kurt Wenner. During the 1980s, Kurt left his job as an illustrator for NASA and went to Italy to study art. Enamored with the technique of anamorphic perspective, Kurt began applying the art to street paintings. He created trompe l’oeil images that from one particular perspective seemed to rise from or sink into the pavement. In 1987 he was the first non-European to win the gold medal at the Gracie festival.

Returning home, Kurt was asked to be the featured artist for the first U.S. I Madonnari festival, a fundraiser designed by Kathy Koury, director of the Children’s Creative Project in Santa Barbara. Our festival in Cleveland, started in 1990, is the second oldest in the country. In the first 19 years we established some milestones of our own, featuring over three dozen professional artists and spawning dozens of chalk festivals throughout northeast Ohio, as well as in Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, and Arizona. Soon we hope to bring this art to Cuba and Brazil. I invite you to join us as 12,000 pieces of artist pastel are blended into pavement by some 1,500 participants and enjoyed by 14,000 visitors. Whether you choose to draw or watch, please come.


2013 Chalk Festival

September 21 and 22, 2013

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Anna Arnold
  • Story Rhinehart Cadiz
  • Bruno Casiano
  • Tim Haas
  • Robin Heinrich
  • Mark Jenks
  • Jan Stickney-Kleber
  • Robin VanLear

ENTERTAINMENT ON THE TERRACE

  • Blues DeVille Band
  • Moko Bovo and Cleveland Lindy Exchange

2012 Chalk Festival
September 15 and 16, 2012

Since the festival coincided with the museum's special exhibition Youth and Beauty: Art of the American Twenties, featured artists related their street paintings to the ideas of youth and beauty.

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Vince Ballentine 
  • Hector Castellanos-Lara 
  • Dyane Hanslik 
  • Robin Heinrich 
  • Wendy Mahon 
  • Joshua Maxwell 
  • Story Rhinehart 
  • Debra Sue Solecki 
  • Robin VanLear 
  • Sequoia Versillee

ENTERTAINMENT

  • Delicate Balance 
  • DubFlex 
 

2011 Chalk Festival
September 17 and 18, 2011

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Mark Jenks
  • A. D. Peters
  • Jesse Rhinehart
  • Jan Stickney-Kleber
  • Rafael Valdivieso
  • Robin VanLear with Robin Heinrich

COMMUNITY MURAL PROJECT
Artists presented previews of their designs for community murals.

  • Anna Arnold, East Cleveland
  • Van Monroe, Fairfax
  • Sequoia Versillee, Glenville
  • Jerome White, Hough

ENTERTAINMENT

  • Blues de Ville Band
  • Cats on Holiday

2010 Chalk Festival
September 18 and 19, 2010

Each featured artist utilized some aspect of the collection to inspire a street painting.

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Barbara Chira
  • Wendy Mahon
  • Josh Maxwell
  • Dante Rodriguez
  • Debra Sue Solecki
  • Robin VanLear with Story Lee Rhinehart

COMMUNITY MURAL PROJECT
Artists presented previews of their designs for community murals. Designs were inspired by Cleveland artists in the museum collection.

  • Ed Parker, East Cleveland
  • Neal Hamilton, Fairfax
  • Jerome White, Glenville
  • Anna Arnold, Hough

ENTERTAINMENT

  • DubFlex
  • Cats on Holiday

20th Annual
2009 Chalk Festival

September 12 and 13, 2009

The festival showcased the newly opened east wing, as each featured artist utilized some aspect of the collection to inspire a street painting.

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Anna Arnold
  • Roaidi Cartaya Carbajal
  • Hector Castellanos Lara
  • A. D. Peters
  • Jesse Rhinehart
  • Jan Stickney-Kleber
  • Robin VanLear

ENTERTAINMENT

  • DBC (Delicate Balance Collective)
  • The Blues de Ville Band

2008 Chalk Festival

September 20 and 21, 2008

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Story Lee Cadiz
  • Mark Jenks
  • George Kozmon
  • Wendy Mahon
  • Debra Sue Solecki
  • Rafael Valdivieso
  • Robin VanLear

ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Blues de Ville Band
  • DubFlex

2007 CMA Chalk Festival
September 15 and 16, 2007

FEATURED CHALK ARTISTS

  • Augusto Bordelois
  • Tim Haas
  • Wendy Mahon
  • A. D. Peters
  • Rafael Valdivieso
  • Edwige Winans
  • Robin VanLear

ENTERTAINMENT

  • The Blues de Ville Band
  • Hue People (a capella)
  • Panic Steel Ensemble
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