πšŽπšπš’πšπšŽπš πš‹πš’ πš•πšŽπš‘πš’πš’πš’πš•πšŠπš’πš—πšŽ ✰

ADVERTISEMENT

The sight of kids drawing on the pavement with sidewalk chalk is practically guaranteed to induce a session of nostalgia. As summertime traditions go, getting down on the floor to let one’s artistic imagination run wild is right up there with running through sprinklers and creating lemonade stands. But what adults swept up in reveries about the long, lazy days of childhood may not realize is that sidewalk chalk art is a pastime that connects us not merely to memories of our smaller selves, but to a wealthy historical tradition that goes completely back to 16th-century Italy.

While people have already been using chalk to create pictures since age cavemen, the Italian traveling artists known as madonnari appear to own been among the initial practitioners of street art. Robin VanLear, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s director of community arts, explains in a post on the museum’s website

In 16th-century Italy various beggars, primarily amputees, began searching for an edge over the other beggars who proliferated in the plazas and market areas around cathedrals, especially on feast days. A number of them decided to produce art , and charcoal from braziers became their first drawing implement. These were rewarded for his or her efforts with coins thrown down by pilgrims visiting the cathedrals. Ultimately the more artistic beggars began copying portraits of the Madonna, in particular those by the popular early 16th-century liturgical artist Raphael. They were dubbed Madonnari, painters of the Madonna.

As the 2011 book Asphalt Renaissance, published by the street artist Kurt Wenner along with B. Hansen and M. Hospodar, explains, madonnari realized they may maximize their earnings by working as traveling artists, moving between towns based on religious festival schedules. The Italian tradition continued for centuries, and soon street art began popping up in countries like England and Germany as well.

The English counterparts to madonnari, known as β€œscreevers,” emerged in Victorian London and remained a fixture of the town up to World War II. Screevers were less closely related to religious subject matter, but like the madonnari, they made a living with their ephemeral art.

ADVERTISEMENT

In George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, an autobiographical book about poverty published in 1933, mcdougal describes his encounter with a screever named Bozo. A self-declared β€œserious screever,” Bozo specialized in drawing political cartoons informed by the day’s news. (β€œOnce a young child got its head stuck in the railings of Chelsea Bridge,” Bozo said. β€œWell, I heard about it, and my cartoon was on the pavement before they’d got the child’s head out from the railings.”) Orwell suggests Bozo had ample competition among London street artists: β€œDuring those times there clearly was a screever nearly every twenty-five yards across the Embankment.” But whereas lots of Bozo’s peers drew the same each and every day, Bozo distinguished himself by taking care of something newβ€”a technique that he said paid off. β€œThe most effective thing’s to keep changing your picture, because when they help you drawing they’ll stop and watch you,” he explained.

Screevers were also memorialized in the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins, occur Edwardian-era England. In the song β€œChim Chim Cheree,” Bert, the twinkly-eyed chimney sweep played by Dick van Dyke, boasts about his side hustle Today I’m a screever, and as you are able to see

A screever’s an artist of’ighest degree
And it’s all me own work from me own memory

Bert is notably less concerned than Bozo about creating a livingβ€”although same can not be said about his hat. β€œNo remuneration do I ask of you,” he sings, β€œBut me cap will be glad of a copper or two.”

As VanLear explains, many European street artists fought in World Wars I and II, which meant that the practice of professional sidewalk chalk drawing faded for a great part of the 20th century. Then, in 1972, the Italian village of Grazie di Curtatone chose to host an international street-painting competition to honor the history of madonnari. The competition, known as Incontro Nazionale dei Madonnari, was a great success, attracting a huge selection of European artists and helping revive curiosity about sidewalk painting.

Roughly 10 years later, its profile got a further boost from Wenner, who’d become the founder of 3D street artβ€”a technique that uses tricks of perspective to make pavement drawings appear to soar from the sidewalk or sink into it. Wenner was studying classical art in Italy in the 1980s and started drawing on pavement as a way to produce money. He eventually made his solution to Grazie’s festival, where he took first place four years in a line, then brought his enthusiasm for street painting back again to the US, launching an annual festivalβ€”the first in the countryβ€”in his hometown of Santa Barbara, California, in 1986.

By the time Asphalt Renaissance was published in 2011, the US was home to between 50 and 100 street-painting festivals each year. Europe has also experienced a street-painting festival boom, with events such varied locales as the Netherlands, Germany, France, England, and Serbia; you can find options in Australia, Canada, and Mexico, too. So should you encounter some kids smeared with chalk dust come early july, tell them to keep at it. There is a future in sidewalk chalk yet.

About Dayana Melton

Dayana Melton
Hello my name is Dayana Melton. I have been working on chalk art for a long time. I will try to explain and show you the experiences I have been working on in chalk art for a long time. If you have any suggestions or questions, you can write to me from the contact section.

Check Also

Basketball 19 Tips

ADVERTISEMENT The sight of kids drawing on the pavement with sidewalk chalk is practically guaranteed …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *