/ The Disney Traveler
Disney — By Jenni Ingersoll on November 13, 2009 at 8:55 am

Chalk Artists Featured at Downtown Disney Festival of the Masters

The 34th Annual Festival of the Masters will be held this weekend at Downtown Disney.  More than 145 of the nations top artists, folk artists and live entertainers will be participating at this highly acclaimed event.VERMEERS

As part of a special feature, members of the Florida Chalk Artist Association, will be drawing or chalking, on select 7 feet x 7 feet square sections of pavement throughout the area. The association members will be sharing the spots with High School groups for a total of 65 works of art.

While this seems like a very interesting art form, my only exposure to chalk art was that of Bert, the lovable chimney sweep/chalk artist in Mary Poppins.   I decided to contact Lee Jones, President of the Florida Chalk Artist Association.  Mrs. Jones was kind enough to share the following information with me.

This art form originated in Italy in the 16th Century.  As most early street painters were homeless, they often painted with the hopes of earning a few coins to buy a meal.  Since there were always a lot of people at churches and cathedrals, the streets in front of these buildings became their pastel canvas.

Because of their close proximity to the churches, most of these street paintings were of the Madonna, so these street painters were called Madonnaro.  The form of painting itself was called Madonnari.

In a way of keeping the historic art form alive, the first  modern street painting festival to feature Madonnari was held in Italy in 1973.  Since then, festivals have been popping up in Europe, the United States and all over the world.  Mrs. Jones shared with me that the length of time to complete  a piece can depend on the speed of the artist, the subject matter, the length of the festival and frankly, how the artist feels.leejones11

I asked Lee, why would you want to work so hard and so long on something that will just wash away?¬† Her reply was that this art form is a performance art.¬† “Just like a ballet or a concert.¬† We do our best just like they do when they are performing.”

Just like Mary Poppins, “I do feel like Bert sometimes when I would like to jump into some of the paintings.”¬† If you would like watch the creation of these amazing works of art, jump on over to Downtown Disney this weekend.¬† Be sure to tell Lee I said “hi”!

Photo Selections Courtesy of Lee Jones

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