Italian Street Painting Marin

About Italian Street Painting Marin page bannerCREDITS: artist, Sara Mordecai; photo, Joy Phoenix

About Italian Street Painting Marin

"The synergy of creative collaboration can result in magic beyond our imagining." — Gary Yost   

Street painter Genna Panzarella, filmmaker Gary Yost, and Italian Street Painting Marin completed a magical collaboration.  Take this 8-minute journey, a healing tribute to Marin's mystical Mount Tamalpais. 


Join Italian Street Painting Marin for our next event, June 23-24, 2018, as we contemplate science and fiction with an exciting journey through the Wonders of Space & Time in downtown San Rafael! Find out more HERE!

Italian Street Painting Marin showcases the fine art of street painting and supports quality arts-based programs and experiences for underserved students.

Italian Street Painting Marin is a program of EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, a 501c3 nonprofit. EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, a national organization headquartered in Marin County, California, is dedicated to accelerating biotech innovation for rare disease treatments through science-driven public policy. The Foundation believes that bridging science and the arts enhances health, inspires hope, and changes lives.


Italian Street Painting Marin Events, Workshops, and Grants

CREDITS:  artist, Tracy Lee Stum
  • Italian Street Painting Marin produces an annual performance art event in downtown San Rafael, California. City streets become the canvas for our talented Madonnari (street painters) and visitors experience this captivating performance art with Mission San Rafael Arcangel as the backdrop.
  • Italian Street Painting Marin Special Events showcase master Madonnari at venues in and around the Bay Area. If you are interested in featuring a street painting performance at your next occasion please contact us.
  • Italian Street Painting Marin provides teen and professional workshops covering everything from the basics of street painting technique to the latest innovations in the art form. To offer a workshop for your organization or school, please contact us.
  • Italian Street Painting Marin grants funds to local arts programs. Meet our 2017 Grantees. (PDF)

Past Event Highlights

2017 EVENT

ISPM 2017 Summer of Love event's Peace Sign - Photo by ScusselThis past June, our annual event was themed, Summer of Love: An Art and Music Experience as we celebrated the golden anniversary of the summer of 1967 and the profound impact the San Francisco Bay Area’s art and music scene made on the culture of the country. This year’s far-out event was brought to the streets of San Rafael and featured awe-inspiring artwork from over 100 of the world’s top Madonnari (street painters).

The feeling of peace and love emanated throughout the event over the entire weekend was made even more powerful with the creation of, what may have been a record-setting 40-foot peace symbol created by Madonnari Ann Hefferman and Lisa Jones. The good-vibes continued to spread via Tracy Lee Stum and Terena Wong’s 3d “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” themed piece. Many other artworks focusing on the era’s music, fashion and history provided a fun and nostalgic feeling to the event.

Stanley Mouse, legendary creator of some of the most iconic poster art of the era, was on hand at meet fans and sign some of his art as part of a special gallery exhibition of his work. Guests were also able to get down and get their groove on to some of the most memorable songs of the era, performed by a line up of great bands, including Summer of Love tribute band, Aquarius.

We were honored to, once again this year, share winning artworks from the annual EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases’ Rare Artist contest. Open to those whose lives have been touched by rare disease, the stories behind the artwork are just as powerful as the pieces themselves.

Other special event features included an appearance by Snoopy, distribution of over 9,000 flowers to event guests, a one of a kind Summer of Love art car, amazing face-painting, and an abundance of children proudly exhibiting their creativity and chalk-drawing skills as part of Flower Children’s Avenue.

Summer of Love: An Art and Music Experience in the news:


2016 EVENT

ISPM 2016 Peck RowShotIn June, we brought our event back to the streets of downtown San Rafael with Ciao Bella Roma. In addition to the exquisite artwork of over 100 Madonnari (street painters) from near and far, the event had much to offer the thousands who attended!

Visitors risked their hands if they told a lie at our Bocca Della Verita (Mouth of Truth) sculpture recreated by Pennsylvania artist John A. Mayer, and tossed coins on the 3D street painting of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain, created by Julie Kirk-Purcell and her talented team of artists. The sounds of the San Francisco Bay music scene provided the perfect addition to our performance art event!

The RareArtist Gallery featured touching works from EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases’ RareArtist contest. In addition, thanks to the cooperation of Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Marisa Darnel, reproductions of works from the late artist Mauricio Saravia, who lost his life to the rare disease McCune-Albright, were also displayed.

As part of our Community Partners Program, California Film Institute screened the classic film, Roman Holiday, featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The film included a video welcome from Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

Ciao Bella Roma in the media:


2015 EVENT

Event overview image by Terry Scussel

The June 2015 event, Carnevale di Venezia, showcased the excitement of Venice, Italy's famed celebration to downtown San Rafael! 

In addition to the bold and bright artwork created by our Madonnari (street painters) from around the globe, the event featured many other amazing experiences for the crowds to enjoy!

Our Parade of Costumes over the “Rialto Bridge,” featured the amazing Venetian masks of Veronica DeMartini and intricate costumes of Cynthia Carlomagno, and brought crowds to an awestruck silence. While live, local music, from an array of bands got the crowds moving to the beat.

Carnevale di Venezia attendees were also treated to EveryLife Foundation’s Rare Artist Gallery, which displayed the some of the winning pieces from their annual art contest for those whose lives are touched by rare disease, as well as an exhibition of entries to our Mask-Making competition.

Visit our 2015 Gallery page to view photos of the event.

Our Carnevale di Venezia event in the press:


2014 EVENT

Italian Street Painting Marin's June 2014 event featured 22 street painters illustrating California in the 1940s. The theme resonated with both the artists and event visitors, initiating a very special dialogue between both. Stories and experiences were shared, some made us smile and others brought a few tears to our eyes.

An impromptu visit from Phyllis Gould, one of the original Rosies (women who worked in the factories during WWII) who was featured in one of the street paintings, drew lines of people all wanting to meet this fascinating woman.

The 2014 California in the 1940s event created a unique and captivating learning experience for all who attended! Visit our 2014 Gallery page to view photos of the event.

Our 2014 event in the press:

Chalk Artists pay tribute to vintage California – Marinscope
PHOTOS: Italian Street Painting festival in San Rafael – Marin Independent Journal Media Center



Row5 Lipoff 2013After a two year hiatus, street painting returned to downtown San Rafael, in June of 2013. Italian Street Painting Marin’s international cadre of artists transformed the streets into breathtaking works of art, and our talented local musicians invited people to dance. Captured in film and photos – from the street to aerial shots courtesy of the Universal Studios Airship – you can relive the performance here. Check out our Gallery to view a sampling of the art.

Our 2013 event received accolades from both the public and the press. We thank everyone who helped make the first Italian Street Painting Marin event a success.

Read Some of Our Rave Reviews!

The Salvation Sisters
96 Degrees in the Shade – San Rafael Patch
Artists’ Comments – Marinscope
Moonalice Closes the Inaugural Event

“The art itself, and the conjoined efforts of the group went straight as an arrow to my soul and pierced it with joy. In my state of amazement, I wanted to laugh and burst out crying at the same time.” —The Salvation Sisters 

About the Art of Street Painting

It is believed that street painters, known as Madonnari, date back to 13th century Italy. Some say Giotto, born just north of Florence, was a Madonnaro. Others say the first street painters were Venetian. There is much uncertainty about the origin of the Madonnaro. Even the name Madonnaro has had various meanings. The word was not common in northern Italy. A Madonnaro referred to a vendor who sold religious artifacts, while in the south it is believed that the Madonnaro was a street painter, using stones and simple chalks to create his images.

After World War II, Italy discouraged the Madonnari and tried to eliminate the art form which was considered an image of poverty. However, in 1973 the first street painting event, Incontro Nazionale dei Madonnari, premiered in the Italian village of Grazie di Curtatone to provide a legitimate and legal venue for the handful of traditional Madonnari still painting the streets and sidewalks of Italy. The competition, held each August 15th on the Feast of the Assumption, grew from a few Italian artists to over 150 artists from around the world. In 1987 the art form headed to Santa Barbara, California, the host of the first U.S. street painting festival, and in 1994 this performance art was brought north to San Rafael by Sue and Joe Carlomagno. Today, the tradition lives on at festivals and events around the world.


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