About Us

LIM2015-poster for 2016EVENT SUMMARY.  This 3-day cultural event will showcase elaborate chalk paintings created by artists directly on the streets of Little Italy. The event will be enhanced with Italian food, wine, music, theater and dance in a celebration of the contemporary renaissance of Baltimore’s historic Italian neighborhood.

Our model for this event originated in Italy in a tradition that dates back to the 16th century — the art of street painting. Historically, i madonnari were wandering artists in Italy who traveled village to village to earn their livelihood at various festivals and on various holy days. The artists often depicted religious images in their paintings, thus earning their name. Such a festival was first introduced in America in Santa Barbara, California in the 1980s. Today, street painters create breathtaking traditional and expressionistic compositions using the street as their canvas and chalk pastels as their medium.

EVENT PROGRAM.  Artists will create chalk paintings on Little Italy’s South High Street for the three event days (September 8-10). The street will come alive as it is transformed into fine works of art. The theme of the art is “Freedom.”

Professional and student artists will become i madonnari for the celebration. Little Italy proudly hosts  Madonnari from around the globe, including Vera Bugatti, ToMo, Flavio Coppola, Francesca Arsi, Carlos Alberto Garcia, Andrea Starinieri and  Jennifer Chapparo and Baltimore’s own Maestro Madonnaro, Michael KirbyAnthony Cappetto, known for combining 4d technology with  3d art, will also be featured among the exciting roster of participating visual artists. The street art will be judged by professional artists.

Local, national and international performing artists will participate in a series of indoor and outdoor events sponsored by the Little Italy restaurants.    Laura Norris, founder and instructor of Mando for Kids, will lead her young Baltimore City musicians as they play Italian and contemporary music on bowlback mandolins.  These emerging artists will be followed by the extraordinary musicians who comprise the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet.  Actors from  the Annapolis Shakespeare Company under the direction of Sally Boyett, Artistic Director , will perform in commedia dell’ arte scenes to be staged in and outside of the Little Italy restaurants.  Roving opera singers will also perform in and outside the restaurants.

The PNC Children’s Chalk Center, a family Madonnari arts area, will be the site of children’s street theater and face painting and free chalk will be provided to young artists who will be able to draw on the street alongside the masters.  Children are also welcomed on the bocce court on Stiles Street, where bocce lessons will be provided.

This year the Festival will host a lecture series focused on the historical and contemporary significance of the Madonnari artists at the KOHLER Signature Store that will also serve as the Information Center for artists and attendees and the location where official Festival merchandise will be sold.

All of the foregoing events are free and open to the public.

Other musical events will include a dinner and performance by special guest artists to be announced at the Little Italy Madonnari Arts Festival Kickoff Cabaret the evening of September 7, sponsored by the Associated Italian American Charities and Columbus Celebrations, Inc. at the Cabaret at Germano’s in Little Italy. Ticket proceeds will benefit the funding of the Columbus Day Parade and Madonnari Arts Festival. The Kings of Crownsville will rock the Cabaret on September 9 with original songs and New Orleans jazz and rhythm and blues standards and Festival attendees will be treated to a live rooftop concert above Germano’s PIATTINI in a tribute to The Beatles 1969 concert on the roof of Apple Records provided by Baltimore’s “Fab Five”, The Apple Scruffs.. A comprehensive schedule of events will be published on this website and posted in the Little Italy restaurants.

The Festival is made possible by the generous assistance of the members of the Associated Italian American Charities of Maryland and Columbus Celebrations, Inc.  Major sponsors include the Little Italy restaurants and other local businesses, PNC Bank, Baltimore Magazine, MidAtlantic Media, LLC (Baltimore Style, Jewish Times, Baltimore’s Child), KOHLER Signature Store and Thos Somerville Co., Kaiser Permanente, Folonari Wines, Mamma Mia Wines, Banfi Vintners Foundation, VOGA Italia, Flying Dog Brewery, Birra Moretti, Shanklin Media and the Baltimore LED Art Billboard, the Promotion Center for Little Italy, Baltimore, Miles & Stockbridge,  Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A., and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Hyatt Place Baltimore and Fairfield Inn and Suites, Baltimore/Inner Harbor are the Official Festival Hotel Sponsors. SpotHero is the Official Parking Sponsor. The Little Italy Baltimore Madonnari Arts Festival 2017 will partner with the Turn the Towns Teal 2016 campaign to promote awareness of ovarian cancer and its subtle symptoms.

OUR MISSION.  The mission of the festival is to showcase the exceptional talent, camaraderie and creative spirit of Baltimore.  The heritage of the neighborhood of Little Italy will be celebrated and artists with new ideas will be welcomed in this forward thinking creative community with its enduring traditions.

Friday, September 8, 2017
5 pm – 10 pm

Saturday and Sunday, September 9 and 10, 2017
11am – 10 pm