During the past few days, about three-dozen artists have showcased their talents in the tradition of 16th century Italian artists known as “madonnari” who, with chalk, recreated primarily biblical paintings on city streets.
21st century chalk artists, however, do not limit themselves to biblical subjects. Today’s chalk art creations range from classical, to whimsical, to way-out.
“We have about 36 artists here from all over the world, the nation and locally … producing masterpieces using this remarkable and beautiful form that’s really performance art,” said Michael Shields, chairman of the Key West Art in Public Places Board, that organized the event. “You experience it (the artwork), then you retain it and then it fades away in time as the elements weather it.”
Shields said the average size of each artwork is 15 by 25 feet and that the Florida Keys marine environment provided visual inspiration for many participants. At least four mermaids were created, as well as a deep-sea diver with a rooster swimming underwater.
Another artist created a “selfie” opportunity, creating a small boat “floating” on the sea with a “seat” that festival attendees could sit down for a self-portrait.