I Madonnari Shakes Off Cool Weather

Despite Early Morning Rain the Festival Kicks Off in High Gear

Ray Ford

The morning began with wet pavement and worries that the artists might not be able to put chalk to the asphalt.

Roosevelt 2nd graders carefully lay out their designs and begin to work a small part of the overall painting.
Ray Ford

But by 10 a.m. as skies cleared and the ground dried out, chalk dust was flying and the Santa Barbara Mission parking lot was turning into works of art. Started as a fund raising project in 1987 to benefit the Children’s Creative Project, the festival has become one of Santa Barbara’s most popular community events.

Perhaps what is so special about it is the ability to watch each day as the art begins to take shape, the chalk is laid down and the designs begin to take on color and form. Over the three days they transform into something special, then gradually over the next few weeks, moisture, wind and wear wash them away.

Though just a small part of what will become a much more complex painting, the sense of what the finished work will be like is already emerging.
Ray Ford

I’ve photographed them over the past 10 years, coming each day – Saturday mornings to see the patterns emerge, that evening to see the progress, then Sunday and Monday to watch the final touches being put on the art, and finally early Tuesday morning to photograph the finished work in the early morning sun (see links to today’s gallery and those from the past below).

What better place to spend the weekend and watch perfection unfold?

Artist applies a variety of shades of a light pastel to create a blend of colors.
Ray Ford
Featured work shows what appear to be heavenly angels with Father Virgil looking over them.
Ray Ford
One would not think this range of color and design would be possible on the cracked surface of the Mission parking lot, yet the artists continue to create works of art of great beauty.
Ray Ford


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