Belmont Shore Sidewalk Chalk Art Walk


Not all art is created on a linen canvas while standing in front of an easel.

Take these photos — of everything from the recreation of a magazine covering of Audrey Hepburn to another of a simple flower bouquet — of the various works of art created by the many talented artists who showed off their skills at The Belmont Shore Chalk Art Festival.

The annual event attracted more than 100 chalk artists who used chalk as their medium, and the sidewalks of Belmont Shore as their canvas.

We were excited to snap these photos of the works in progress, as well as those completed. It’s nice to give credit, where credit is due. The artists worked hard throughout the day to churn out these incredible works and it showed.

But this type of art is not new; the origins of modern street painting can be traced to Britain. Pavement artists were found all over the United Kingdom and by 1890 it was estimated that more than 500 artists were making a full-time living from pavement art in London alone. The British term for pavement artist is “screever.” The term is derived from the writing style, often Copperplate that typically accompanied the works of pavement artists since the 1700s.

Street painters, (also called chalk artists) a name these performance artists are most commonly called in the United States are called I Madonnari in Italy because they recreated images of the Madonna. The Italian Madonnari have been traced to the sixteenth century. They were itinerant artists, many of whom had been brought into the cities to work on the huge cathedrals. When the work was completed, they needed to find another way to make a living, and thus often would recreate the paintings from the church onto the pavement. Aware of festivals and holy days held in each province and town, they traveled to join in the festivities to make a living from observers who would throw coins if they approved of the artist’s work. For centuries, many Madonnari were folk artists, reproducing simple images with crude materials such as tiles, coal, and chalk. Others, such as El Greco, would go on to become household names.

 The first recorded street-painting competition and ‘festival’ was held in London in 1906.

We’re glad this type of art has made its way to the United States and we look forward to the next show in Belmont where we can photograph even more talented artists doing their thing.