Monday, November 28, 2011

Madonna and Child in a Two Hour Parking Zone

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web."
Pablo Picasso
Street painting was first recorded in Italy in the 16th Century.  Created by  " madonnari," (so named because  icons of the Madonna  were a common  subject of their work)  itinerant artists,  many who had been brought to the cities to work on the cathedrals  and later needed to find another way to make a living when  the work for the church was done.  The madonnari's materials were tiles, coal and chalk.  Their canvas was the pavement  in front of the cathedral. The madonnari's goal was to inspire pilgrims to throw a few coins their way .  The art form spread throughout Europe--In England such artists are called screevers and in Germany strassenmaler.
Recently  Fredericksburg hosted its second annual Via Colori Festival  which brings together  artists, aspiring artists, a  dabbler in the arts or two,  and a few  souls searching for that artistic spark within themselves, to  put chalk to pavement  as did the madonnari of old......without the whole livelihood stress thing.

For me this event is not so much about the art but rather the process that creates it.  One can marvel at the technique, the beauty, and confidence of  years of experience and talent .  To  appreciate the struggle to create.  And to see  potential  and recognize the desire  in someone's first efforts.    My interest in this event is not to see what is created but rather how it is created. ....

Street Art of A New Century
A 16th century modannari would probably not understand the street art of today.  For the most part  religious themes no longer predominate. The role of art in his time, which was used to inspire, teach, and tell stories (and yes make a few coins on the side), has also changed.  What he would recognize is the desire to create.

So It Begins.......................
From such mundane things as a tape measure, cardboard, chalk, tape, paper towels, a paint can (?), and what I suspect to be a bag of munchies, the creative process begins. Don't know how the whole barefoot thing plays into this process but then I am not an artist.

Art Immitating Nature......With A Little Help From Nature
 "Art not only imitates nature, but also completes its deficiencies."
I must take issue with the esteemed Aristotle on this one. There is no question that the vibrant colors of this piece capture and enhance the spirit of the fall season which we now find ourselves here in Virginia. However, I would say that Mother Nature's small contribution to the bottom left corner of the piece adds immeasurably to the overall effect.

Experience Art--Up Close and Personal
"Every artist was first an amateur."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Well you have got to start somewhere so why not by rolling in it and getting a better feel of the piece. My guess is we are not looking at a budding artist but rather a budding art critic. Or it could be just as simple as an attention getter which at this age is the most probable.

"In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number - living things both large and small... When you send your Spirit, they are created and you renew the earth."
Psalms 104:25,30
Art allows us the opportunity to free ourselves from the bondage of reality and allow us to imagine the unimaginable. We can see ourselves as creators if only on canvas, marble, bronze......or asphalt.

A Moment in the Creative Process
It looks as if the artist is sitting on the ottoman sharing a moment with her creation. What is she thinking about--color, shading? Or is her mind at a different time and place?

All Journeys Begin With a Step
"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
Vincent Van Gogh
There are those that are inspired by the efforts of others to create and say to themselves,--"I too can create." Many would see this as nothing more that some childish scribbles. What it actually may be is the beginning of a journey and we were blessed to be present to witness the first step. 

The End of the Journey?
From the first random scribbles to inspiring beauty.  To create such a picture from chalk on a cracked piece of asphalt is a marvel to behold.   But is it fair to say that anyone reaches a point where they can no longer  learn, or dream something new, or create even greater beauty?

The Transforming Power of Art
Take a little imagination, vibrant colors, and a little patience and you can take what most people would consider a rather mundane street scene and turn it into a work of art. When looking at this I also wonder about the story behind the picture. What was the inspiration, or maybe memory, that created this scene?  Another plus in my book.

We End At The Beginning.............
Like the madonnari of old--Madonna and Child. I actually took a class in Iconography in college. If I am not mistaken (and I'm not because I checked) this is a rendition of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. It is said that it was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist. While painting the picture, Mary was to have told him about the life of Jesus and he later incorporated it into his gospel.