Marin Marvelous: Italian Street Painting Fest

"Ciao Bella Roma" is the 2016 theme of the annual art affair.

BEAUTY BELOW: Gazing downward to find something fascinating or to fix our gaze on a gorgeous sight is something we do quite often. Perhaps we're looking at a rug beneath our feet, or a spray of wildflowers on the bank of a creek, or our cat stretching out in a soft sunbeam. But gazing downward at chalk-based works of art is a rarer experience, one that comes around in the summertime in cities around California. A few of the majors run over the course of a month, from the i madonnari happening in Santa Barbara at the end of May, through the Father's Day weekend chalk-tacular in Pasadena, to the hue-meets-concrete confab in San Rafael at the close of the month. Well, not quite the close, but close: The 2016 Italian Street Painting Marin will stake a colorful claim on the final weekend of June. That's...

JUNE 25 AND 26, and the area surrounding 5th Avenue and A Street in downtown San Rafael will take on a museum-lovely dimension, though, of course, the paintings will not be hanging upon walls (nor will they be created from paint). "Artwork from over 100 Madonnari (street painters) from around the U.S. and around the globe will fill the streets..." that weekend, making lively visual tableaux that might be abstract, or Impressionistic, or a bit tromp l'oeil (walk around the piece to see if your eye it truly being tricked).

CIAO BELLA ROMA... is the romantic theme of the year. Tickets? They're ten bucks. A Children's Avenue showcasing works by young artists? Part of the tradition. Live entertainment? That is on tap, too. It's a summer staple that reminds us to point our chins ground-ward to admire art. Art, of course, that's just about as ephemeral as a sunbeam or a spray of wildflowers, in the way that chalk-on-sidewalk tends to rather poetically adhere to the notion of "here today, gone next week." Enjoy it while it is there, ground gazers.

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