This past weekend I had the fantastic opportunity to experience the 15th Annual Via Arte Italian Street Painting Festival hosted by the Bakersfield Museum of Art, in Bakersfield, CA. Each year in October, hundreds of artists and onlookers make their way to the Marketplace in Bakersfield to take in the beauty that is street painting.
The sounds of live blues bands fill the air, as chalk covered artists work steadily on oversized asphalt canvas’, creating a multitude of works that range in style, content, and color palette. The first time I attended the festival in 2010 I was one of the artists working on hands and knees all weekend to complete an oversized temporary piece of art, this time however I came as an onlooker, taking in the sights and sounds of creativity.
Artists young and old, students and professionals, participate in what can only be described as a labor of love, creating beautiful masterpieces side by side for passing patrons amid the desert heat - that come the following Tuesday are power washed away. Some artists start as early as Friday to complete artwork that can span over a 10’x10’ square of asphalt by Sunday’s afternoon judging. Yet despite the harsh sun and discomfort of working on hands and knees for hours on end, spirits were high and you could feel the community and love of art drifting through the air. Artists are happy to stop and chat a bit about what they’re working on and why they continue to come back year after year, and onlookers get the opportunity to see the process of art in progress.
Below is a sampling of what I saw at this years Festival.
If you'd like to see more art from the festival or find out more info. about this yearly event, check out http://viaartebakersfield.com/get-involved/.