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The Cleveland Museum of Art Celebrates 20 Years of Chalk Festival
The Chalk Festival brings a nearly 500-year-old Renaissance tradition to Cleveland. ©The Cleveland Museum of Art.

CLEVELAND, OH.- While the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is going through many changes, some traditions continue. CMA’s annual “I Madonnari” Chalk Festival celebrates its 20th year Saturday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday Sept. 13, from noon to 5 p.m. The 20th festival will showcase the museum’s newly opened East Wing as each featured artist utilizes aspects of the collection to inspire their street painting. The festival will take place along pathways on the museum’s south side including the Fine Arts Garden winding down to Wade Lagoon.

As always, visiting the Chalk Festival to enjoy the artists and the music is FREE of charge. There is a fee for those who choose to participate as Madonnari. A large square and 24-color box of artist pastels is $16 while a small square and 12-color box of pastels is $8. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Sign-up when you arrive. However, groups are encouraged to pre-register by calling (216) 707-2483 by Wednesday, Sept. 9. Non-paid advanced registrations will be held until 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13. The parking garage at CMA will be available for a fee. Additional parking is available at metered spaces and garages around University Circle .

The Chalk Festival brings a nearly 500-year-old Renaissance tradition to Cleveland. In 16th century Italy , beggars used chalk and charcoal to draw on the plazas outside of cathedrals. Mainly copying paintings of the Madonna by Raphael and his contemporaries, these street painters became known as I Madonnari or painters of the Madonna. Thus, an artistic tradition was born that is celebrated annually in Europe, Africa and the United States .

Participants can create their own masterpiece while working alongside feature chalk artists. Cuban artist Roaidi Cartaya Carbajal, twice an international guest artist for Parade the Circle, takes part in his first Chalk Festival. He will be joined by Greater Cleveland artists Anna Arnold, A.D Peters, Jesse Rhinehart who were in the very first festival. Castellanos Lara, Jan Stickney-Kleber, and Robin VanLear chalk festival founder and artistic director, will also participate.

Chalk Festival by the numbers:

· 2009 marks the 20th year of Chalk Festival
· Average number of chalkers (in past 3 yrs): 1,325
· Average number of boxes of chalk used (in past 3 yrs): 712
· Average weight of chalk used annually (in past 3 yrs): 559 pounds
· Days with rain in past 19 years: 9
· Temperature range: high 30s to high 80s
· Farthest traveled participants: 2,019 miles - Prescott , Ariz.
· Number of squares chalked in 2008: 785
· Attendance in 2008: 14,000
· Total attendance 19 years: 123,400

During the festival, visitors will be able to enjoy the music of DBC: Delicate Balance Collective on Saturday, Sept. 12. DBC, founded by Lynn Haney and CMA conservator of paintings, Marcia Steele , creates a balance between rock, folk, swing, blues and island style music to achieve an eclectic sound sure to please every music lover. DBC also includes the talents of Grammy award winner Mike Calhoun who lends the band a jazz and blues emphasis on lead guitar. DBC has performed at many Cleveland venues such as the Barking Spider and the Vine and Bean Café, in addition to shows in New York City , Belgium and the Netherlands.

On Sunday, Sept. 13, regional and Chalk Festival favorite The Blues de Ville Band, returns to entertain the crowd with blues, swing and rockabilly. The Blues de Ville Band has been a part of the Northeast Ohio music scene for nearly 20 years dedicating their style to "American Roots Music" with performances from New Orleans to Chicago and all the Juke Joints in between.

Chalk Workshops
Prior to the festival, workshops will be held on chalk artistry for festival participants. Workshop attendees will be able to make artist pastels using old world techniques and new materials as well as learn professional techniques for masking, stenciling, shading and enlarging pictures. The workshop cost is $25 for individuals and $75 for families of three or more; the fee includes materials and reserves artist pastels and a square for the festival. Those interested can choose one session either on Sunday, Aug. 30, from 2 pm to 4:30 pm or Wednesday, Sept. 9, from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Children under 15 must register and attend with an adult. Call 216-707-2483.

Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival
Coinciding with the Chalk Festival weekend, Community Arts will also present Hispanic chalk artists Dante Rodgriguez (Saturday, Sept. 12) and Rafael Valdivieso Troya (Sunday, Sept. 13) at the Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival from noon -5 p.m. at Lincoln Park in the Tremont neighborhood.

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