March 11, 2017

Chalk Art Tradition Continues in Ivins

2017 Street Painting Festival April 29th & 30th

Kayenta Arts Foundation’s mission is to develop and create an environment that fosters diverse artistic endeavors for education and enrichment purposes. One of the ways KAF fosters this Mission is through its annual Street Painting Festival (SPF). The 2017 SPF will take place April 29th and 30th through the pathways of Kayenta Art Village.

The brainchild of local artist Aimee Bonham, KAF’s first SPF was in 2011. Not only did Aimee bring the idea of a street painting festival to the KAF Board, she organized and implemented the Festival, including recruiting artists, offering seminars on chalk art to area schools, coordinating all aspects of the Festival and participating as a chalk artist! Those of us who have worked on the Festival since Aimee’s retirement from the KAF Board are in awe of her ability and talent.

Street painting has a long history, thought to have its beginnings in Italy in the 16th century. Arising from the early Italian street painters’ frequent representation of the Madonna, professional street painters still are known as Madonnari. The early artists traveled between cities and festivals working in chalk, charcoal and other simple materials. Popular in Europe, Madonnari and the art they practiced diminished during World War II. The International Street Painting Festival known as Grazie di Cortatone, begun in 1972 in Mantua, Italy, brought new life to this simple, yet complicated, art form. Today, street painting festivals occur around the world. Kayenta Arts Foundation is proud to be part of the effort to continue this tradition.

The 2017 Street Painting Festival will take place the last full weekend in April. In preparation for the SPF, KAF reaches out to area schools with free seminars on chalk art. Schools choosing to participate send teams of students to create works alongside chalk artists from around the region, and, sometimes, the country. Students’ works are judged by area artists and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place trophies are awarded in three grade levels. Toddlers and other young people also have an opportunity to create: $5 gets the youngster a box of chalk and access to a 2×2 square in which to draw. At the end of the weekend, a mosaic celebrating the diversity and creativity of our children appears.

While student teams compete only on Saturday, adult artists can draw through Sunday afternoon. Two cash awards are made: “Best in Show,” as judged by local artists, and the “People’s Choice,” as selected by attendees to the Festival. Throughout the Festival, local musicians perform music of all genres. Food vendors and Xetava Garden Café offer visitors a variety of food choices, from finger foods to casual dining.

Visiting the Festival at any time during the weekend offers an opportunity to witness art in the making and to appreciate the talent of local street painters and young artists. Many who visit on Saturday and return on Sunday are in awe of the transformation of black macadam into a canvas of colorful, exciting art. Please join us in celebration of street painting. KAF’s Street Painting Festival is free and open to the public. Details are available at

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