In Italy, they’re called Madonnari and they date back to the 16th century. Of course, street painting didn’t really take off until the 20th century, when London held its first festival and competition in 1906. And the first international street painting competition didn’t happen until 1972, back in Italy.
This year, the village of Bigfork welcomes street painters and spectators to its inaugural Chalk ’n Rock Festival, Sept. 20-21. Musicians perform while more than three-dozen street painters transfer their artistry to 40 eight-foot squares on the pavement. The result? More than 40 large works of art will adorn the streets and sidewalks, created by a mix of street artists: some experienced, some notable, some local and some new.
“There is something extraordinary about doing chalk in the street,” says featured artist Lori Escalera. “The way the chalk art emerges from the ground; the magnitude of the piece; the effect of the color of the artwork as we see it – all very different than the way we perceive a painter working in a studio.
“I do not mind that the work is temporary. It seems to be part of its beauty – life isn’t about permanence anyway! Nothing is permanent or even static. Everything is constantly changing.”
Guest artist Bill Spiess has been street painting for more than 16 years, and specializes in murals and portraits.
Kids may participate as well for just $5 for two-foot squares.
Musicians accompanying the painting process include Blue Smoke, The Bad Larrys, Ashley Creek Rambers, Can of Arrows and the Kenny James Miller Band on Saturday, and the Christian Johnson Trio, Blue Smoke and the Fetveit Brothers on Sunday.
The festival is open to the public from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday to watch paintings in progress, and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday to see the final results.
For more information, call 406-837-5888 or go to chalknrock.org.