Elmira Street Painting Festival - Elmira, NY

The History of Street Painting

Street painting, also commonly known as street art, is the activity of rendering artistic designs on pavement such as streets, sidewalks, and town squares with impermanent materials. Street Painting originated in Italy in the 16th century. Street painters were called "madonnaro", which translates to Madonna, because the early images were mostly of the Madonna. The madonnari were traveling artists. Aware of festival and holy days in each province and town, they traveled to join in the festivities. They created images in public squares and in front of the local church using bits of broken roof tiles, charcoal, and white chalk. Passersby would often leave a bit of bread or olive oil for the artist along with an occasional coin. After the festivities or with the first rain, both the painting and the painter would vanish. Street Painting in the US became popular in the mid 1980ís and many U.S. cities hold annual events celebrating this form of ART. As this art form continues, the subject matter has expanded to not only forms of Religious icons and reproduction of old masters, but ranges from simple to very complex forms of self expression.

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