I Madonnari meets Michelangelo at the Mission 

By Steven Libowitz   |   May 30, 2023
I Madonnari celebrates its 37th anniversary this May 27-29 (photo by Meredith Ventura)

The ephemeral meets the everlasting in the world of arts at the Old Mission Santa Barbara this Memorial Day weekend. I Madonnari – the annual chalk drawing that turns the pavement in front of the Santa Barbara Mission into a huge series of asphalt canvases for artists of all ages – celebrates its 37th edition this May 27-29. The beloved event’s street paintings range from the classical and religious to original images in Pop Art and portraits. All are invited to watch the artists at work, seeing the paintings progress from concept to completion over several back-breaking, knee-nagging hours. 

As always, local bands will provide a nearly non-stop musical soundtrack, while the authentic Italian market on the Mission lawn is also making a comeback. The festival encompasses chalk drawings as performance art, as they all fade over time due to wind, moisture, and footsteps. The focus on the creative process rather than the product mirrors the mission of the Children’s Creative Project, a nonprofit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office; the fest’s beneficiary. 

Meanwhile, inside the Mission, a special exhibition recreates perhaps the most famous and beloved artwork of all time: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The astonishing ceiling paintings from Rome have been reproduced nearly life sized using licensed high-definition photos and a special printing technique that emulates the look and feel of the original paintings. With the more accessible perspective, visitors can see every detail, every brush stroke, and every color of the artist’s 34 frescoes via the innovative and unique interpretation of Michelangelo’s timeless masterpiece. 

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel – The Exhibition, which takes place in an area of the Mission not normally open to the public, runs May 26-September 4 – lasting long after the chalk drawings out front will have faded into memory. 

Visit https://ccp.sbceo.org/i-madonnari and www.santabarbaramission.org/sistine-chapel-omsb.


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