site design by paperskillet

Transforming a dark chunk of asphalt into a large-scale canvas is the street painters task. Armed with colored chalks and pastels, Madonnari are on their knees and hands for 10 to 12 hours a day, turning pavement into ephemeral art in the space of a week-end. No lasting effects are expected, other than the memories of a pleased public, the encounter of a large family of artists, and a few photographs.

The origins of street painting are unclear: some place it as early as the Middle Ages, some around the 16th Century. But it was a small town in Northern Italy, Grazie di Curtatone, which brought back the tradition and is carrying it into the 21st Century. Every year since 1973, hundreds of artists from all over the world meet there in August for a grueling 24 hour competition from which emerge the Masters.

This uncommon art form, part performance art and part fine art, is what I love to do, as much as my passion for classical oil painting. While born in the U.S., I was raised in Europe from Russia to Italy. There, from a very early age, I was exposed to the works of European masters. I knew already then that art would be my life. After returning to the States and studying at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., I opened a gallery and fine art printmaking studio in Alexandria, Virginia. It was after moving to Santa Barbara in 1991 that I had my first experience with street painting. In fact Santa Barbara under the vision and leadership of Kathy Koury, was the first town in the U.S. to bring this art form to the pavements of American cities. I have participated in Madonnari festivals throughout the U.S., Mexico and Europe ever since. And of course, every year in August, I pack my chalks and join a handful of American artists to compete in Grazie.

This site will show you some of my work and I hope that it may encourage you to witness or even participate in one of these events now held throughout the U.S.

photo by :: Kat Quirk