Fredericksburg, VA

The History of Street Painting

Street painting was first recorded in the 16th Century when itinerant artists would paint religious icons on the courtyards of the great Italian cathedrals. They would leave their chalk boxes open, in hopes that the pilgrims would show their appreciation for the work by leaving some coins. Because the images these artists would paint were often of the Madonna, they became known as Madonnari.

Street painting languished until about 30-years ago when festivals began to spring up in Europe, mostly in Italy. In 1986, the first American festival began in Santa Barbara, California. It was named I Madonnari after the first street painters, and today it still boasts some of the most beautiful works found in festivals anywhere.

The History of Via Colori®

In 1994, Via Colori® was founded in Naples, Florida. Two years later, it was exported to Seaside, on the other end of that state, and it began to grow into the largest - and only - street painting festival to be licensed in multiple cities.

Today, the founder of Via Colori grows the festivals slowly, starting an average of only one each year.