Sutherland Elementary School, 10015 S. Leavitt St., has hosted I Madonnari, an Italian street-painting festival, for almost two decades.
This year, the unique festival will be part of the school hosting the children’s park of the Beverly Art Walk, curated by The Beverly Area Arts Alliance on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Families are invited to purchase a square of space for $10 and decorate it as they choose, with proceeds benefitting the Sutherland Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
“We’re really thrilled to be partnering with The Alliance,” said PTA member Nora Barr. “They can help bring more exposure and resources to what we think is already a very cool and interesting event.”
Street painting is an Italian tradition believed to have started in the 16th century; the word “Madonnari” is used because Italian street painters would often reproduce the image of the Madonna, St. Mary.
Chalk is used, and at Sutherland, Barr said, artists will use pastels that have more vibrant colors.
Supplies will be provided.
Art teachers from Keller Regional Gifted Center and Vanderpoel Humanities Academy are participating, and children can, too, Barr said.
The goal is to be creative.
“It’s really wide ranging,” Barr said. “Some people like to get inspirational with their square and find a good quote.”
The art walk will be held from noon to 5 p.m., with over 100 artists are participating at over 40 venues in Beverly/Morgan Park.
The children’s park, Barr said, will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., in order to enable families to also visit other stops on the walk.
Proceeds, she said, will go toward the Sutherland PTA supporting teachers’ wish lists and student programming at the school.
The children’s park will also feature CircEsteem, a Chicago social circus aimed at building self-esteem in children and creating safe and diverse communities through circus arts.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey retired clown Paul Miller founded the organization in 2001.
Face painting, food and drinks will also be available at the park, and Sutherland spirit wear will be for sale.
The Alliance has hosted a children’s park during the art walk at various schools and public spaces since the inaugural event in 2014.
Barr is thrilled that Sutherland’s I Madonnari will now be featured.
“It’s a natural connection to be able to tie the art walk to this longstanding event that we have,” Barr said. “The art walk is so impactful for our community, and it really elevates the arts so much in the neighborhood. I think our event is able to be more dynamic because of the partnership with The Alliance.”
PTA member Amy Morrow said the paintings at I Madonnari are seal coated and last two to three weeks. So, every day they walk into school, students can admire their work.
The festival will be like a block party, she said.
“We’re just so excited,” she said, “to have the art walk including us.”
The Beverly Art Walk is returning to its traditional format this year; because of the pandemic, The Alliance hosted the “Alt Walk” last year, with art displayed in the front windows of businesses for several weeks.
Hubs of activity will be installed on major corridors ranging from 95th to 111th streets, and public art will be highlighted.
Organizers are also selling limited-edition prints of a Beverly mural that was painted five years ago by artist Mitchell Egly near 99th Street and Walden Parkway.
As art walk Co-founder Monica Wilczak said, the children’s park will offer families a chance to create art together and try new things.
Sutherland was unable to host I Madonnari last year, but organizers are looking forward to the 18th edition of the event.
“While it is a Sutherland tradition,” Barr said, “we do want everyone to feel welcome.”
A full map of the Beverly Art Walk appears on page 4 of the print edition or can be downloaded here.