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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Chalk one up for the local art experience

    Saint John the Baptist, a work in chalk by Cait NiSiomon in Santa Rosa Park. The third annual Tucson Madonnari project, which begins this weekend, will give the community a chance to witness the creation of similarly unique works.
    ‘Saint John the Baptist,’ a work in chalk by Cait NiSiomon in Santa Rosa Park. The third annual Tucson Madonnari project, which begins this weekend, will give the community a chance to witness the creation of similarly unique works.

    Instead of partaking in a lazy Saturday, some Tucsonans have their calendars marked to attend the third annual Tucson Madonnari Chalk Festival at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library Plaza from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    The festival, in partnership with It’s Happening Downtown, will feature new and established Madonnari artists producing their work on the downtown pavement of the plaza.

    “”It’s one of the few opportunities the public has to be engaged with the artists doing their work,”” said artistic director Leia Maahs.

    Maahs, who is a large player for bringing the Madonnari Project to the city of Tucson, described the festival as an opportunity to embrace a “”very unique art form”” in the community.

    “”We are creating this showcase for the community,”” Maahs said.

    Madonnari is a street painter, an art that dates back to the 16th century, after “”their historical practice of creating chalk paintings of the Madonna,”” according to TucsonMadonnari.com. Unlike more traditional art festivals, the chalk festival is special because attendee’s actually experience the process of the art being produced, Maahs explained.

    “”It’s just as valuable, the process, as the beauty of the work being created,”” Maahs said. “”The process is just as valuable as the product.””

    Artists include Matt Cotten, Jose Ignacio Garcia, Patsy Gelb, Adam Gilbert, Gwyneth Scally, Gavin Troy, Tom Walbank, Douglas Weber and Shanna Zimmerman – a total of 10 local artists.

    “”It’s really about community development through the arts,”” Maahs said.

    Maahs spends almost all year planning for the festival, an event she started nearly three years ago. The festival is accessible and diverse, Maahs said.

    “”It’s about the process and the community experience,”” Maahs said. “”We’re about providing this platform for this engagement.

    When asked how she would convince UA students to attend, Maahs put on her “”civic hat,”” as she called it, to explain the importance of community.

    “”It’s an opportunity to be exposed to art and cultural activities that you might not be exposed to,”” Maahs said. “”It’s important for young individuals to reach out and be a part of community activity.

    “”Just by attending, students will see people they would never expect to see,”” Maahs said.

    The festival will also feature, along with four “”established artists”” collaborating on huge chalk art murals, special emcees, international music and dance, UA Poetry Center corrido performers, car art and interactive activities for the kids. Food and drinks, such as gelato and an espresso bistro, will be available for purchase.

    “”There’s something for everyone,”” Maahs said.

    The festival begins this Saturday at 11 a.m. and lasts until 6 p.m., with a “”special Sunday Picnic Chalk Art viewing”” that previous Sunday, at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave.

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