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Return of Italian inspired street painting festival which raises money for local arts education

Artist Emily Lostaunau is the featured artist at this year's I Madonnari Street Painting Festival in Santa Barbara
Caroline Feraday
Artist Emily Lostaunau is the featured artist at this year's I Madonnari Street Painting Festival in Santa Barbara

I Madonnari raises money for arts education in Santa Barbara County.

Colorful chalk pastels are being etched onto the ground in front of the steps outside the Old Santa Barbara Mission by artist Emily Lostaunau. She’s the featured artist at this year’s I Madonnari Street Painting Festival, which has been running for 38 years.

"I started on Tuesday with the outlines and then I started painting it yesterday. I worked on the clouds and the sky, and then today I'm working on the arches and the flowers," explained Lostaunau.

When it’s finished her piece, called The Sunday Greys, will feature three grey stallions rearing up.

"I've myself three days for three horses and then Monday going to wrap everything up," she said.

"These are the three grays that I get to spend my Sundays with every Sunday. I am very lucky to be able to ride and spend time with them every Sunday. So they're my Sunday grays," said Lostaunau.

Over 140 chalk pastel street painting will fill the pavement here, with artists working across the weekend to create and complete them.

"Saturday artists will arrive, ranging from all different ages, all different backgrounds, skill levels, and they have until Monday. We ask that artists are finished Monday at noon, although sometimes people are scrambling to get it done. But Monday at noon we do it big ceremony. And that's when we do the big reveal of our featured artist painting," explained one of the organizers, Kai Tepper. She is the Executive Director of Children’s Creative Project – a non-profit arts education program of the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

"This festival is currently our prime annual fundraiser. So all of the proceeds from the festival, whether it's through the sponsorships or through the beer and wine or the chicken booth, all of that goes back towards arts education. So we really see arts as not just being a tool for, you know, fostering the next generation of artists, but really just the next generation of thinkers and doers and makers. And we feel creativity and arts education is really a wonderful and critical pathway to support the student holistically," said Tepper.

As for Lostaunau and the other artists creating works here – no doubt they will be relieved there’s no rain in the weather forecast this weekend. She says she's been checking it "almost daily for the last few weeks."

I Madonnari Street Painting Festival is open daily from 10am to 6pm Saturday through Monday at Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.