Chalk art has a long history, beginning in the 16th century in Italy when artists paid tribute to the religious figure of Madonna on the city's streets. These artists would travel around the country, making any money they could from those who admired their art. These artists were deemed “Madonnari” and this art form was practiced in Italy until World War II.
In a similar fashion, street painters started appearing in London in the mid-1800s. These artists were called “screevers.” This term refers to the messages that were included with their drawings. The typical artwork was religious or moral in nature and the messages reflected the virtues of their drawings. Screever became popularized in the Disney film Mary Poppins by the character Bert.
Fast forward to the 1980s, a few artists brought street painting to the United States. Robert Guillemin, aka "Sidewalk Sam" made a lasting contribution to this performing art form. Kurt Wenner became the first American artist to practice Italian madonnari. Wenner introduced this art form in the USA at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art at the first such festival in 1985.
Following in the same tradition, Northampton MA, home of Koh-I-Noor USA invited local artists to it's streets. On the second Friday in September, downtown Northampton’s sidewalks were transformed into a colorful canvas of chalk art masterpieces, with area artists drawing inspiration from nature, comic books, culture, abstract ideas, and even Covid.
Some individual chalk artists included Robert Markey, Dave Rothstein, Aldo Pizzi, Kimberly Guthrie, Marc Austin, Rob Kimmel, and more. The 2022 Chalk Art Festival features more artists and more venues than ever before, with more than 28 individual artists participating. Chartpak and Koh-I-Noor USA were thrilled to sponsor the event and provide Toison d'or pastels to each of the participating artists. Koh-I-Noor product offering now consists of our Gionconda Pastels and Chalk Pencils which you can find here:
Congratulations to this year's winners!
First place: Melissa Stratton-Pandina
Second place: Carlos Enriquez
Third place: Shannon Chiba