SO YOU'RE AT MISSION SANTA BARBARA, and you're looking up, of course, because you're marveling at its handsome towers, and its stone work, and its pink-red splashes of color, and how perfectly a blue sky, with just a few clouds, can frame the iconic building. There is, in fact, a lot of looking up that goes down at the lovely landmark, one of the history-laden jewels of the Central Coast. But, come late May, visitors do pause to look down, in wonder, just about as often as they gaze above the horizon line. Why? Hundreds of madonnari are on the pavement, creating colorful portraits and landscapes and trompe l'oeil works, all to delight any eyes in the vicinity, all while simultaneously stoking senses of wonder. If your wonder needs a bit of stoking, and your eyes could use some delight,
MAKE FOR THE AMERICAN RIVIERA... over Memorial Day Weekend 2019 for this venerable showing of actual, literal, and beneath-your-feet street art. Well, not totally "beneath your feet," as you'll want to stand to one side as you watch the talented artists either create original pieces on the cement or tributes to timeless paintings. Pastels shall be used, and some 150 artworks shall come to life, line by line, over the three-day span. And those three days? May 25 through 27, so plan your visit accordingly. You'll see the start of the pieces if you call upon the mission on day number one, and catch them as they're completed as day three concludes. The beneficiary of the I Madonnari Festival, which is celebrating 33 years? The Children's Creative Project, a regional nonprofit arts program (indeed, it is educational at heart).
THE PRICE TO VISIT THIS VIBRANCY? It's free. So look up, at the mission, at the sky, at the gulls flying in the distance, then look down, again and again, as dozens and dozens of artists get innovative, humorous, dramatic, or a little bit of all that, and more, over three late-May days.