MV’s Chalk the Walk May 7 and 8

The City of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Parks and Recreation, the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG) have announced the dates of the 11th annual Chalk the Walk, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival. The two-day festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Scheduled to take place Mother’s Day Weekend, this year’s event will feature the work of more than 300 artists utilizing a downtown city street as a canvas and more than a half-ton of chalk. Last year’s 1st Place Winners, Pamela Hyberger and Alison Frerking, will return to the event as this year’s featured artists. As in past years, this year more than $1,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to chalk artists, with a formal check presentation ceremony to take place Sunday afternoon, May 8.

“We are ready to kick off the summer festival season in Mount Vernon with our annual Chalk the Walk event,” said Danielle Chargo, Chair of the Chalk the Walk committee. “The event will coincide with Mother’s Day this year and we are hoping that everyone in the state will plan to come to Mount Vernon and Spend Mother’s Day weekend with the Madonnari!”

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This year’s large collaborative piece of chalk art is a 30’ by 50’ recreation of 16 pieces from Andy Warhol’s colored Campbell soup can series. For a $10 donation to the festival, any interested festival participant will be given a set of chalk sticks and will be asked to create a single 2’ by 2’ square of a portion of the image. When finished, a recreation of the Warhol’s soup cans will appear on Mount Vernon’s Main Street as a giant image, colored with pastel chalk by dozens of artists of all ages and abilities.

The week following the Chalk the Walk festival, the exhibit “Immortal: Warhol’s Last Works” opens at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids. Museum staff and volunteers will be on site during Chalk the Walk providing information about the exhibit. Look for an Andy Warhol lookalike to make appearances in the crowd throughout the duration of the festival.

Chalk the Walk is based on an original art form that began in Italy in the 16th century. Called Madonnari, this form of public art was originally done by street artists hoping to collect coins from passersby. Images back then were based on religious themes, and as the Madonna was a popular subject, the artists became known as the “Madonnari.”

Note: Design composed of original Andy Warhol artworks. Artworks © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Applications for artists, sponsors and food vendors are available through the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development’s Web site at or through the Facebook page at Volunteers are still needed for the event. A volunteer form is available here:

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Sponsor applications are available here: [gview file=””]

About Mount Vernon

Historic Mount Vernon, Iowa, is home to 4500 residents, including 1200 college students enrolled at Cornell College. Located in Eastern Iowa at the intersection of Highways 30 and 1, 20 miles north of Iowa City and 15 miles east of Cedar Rapids, it boasts a vibrant uptown business community with numerous antique and specialty stores, restaurants, coffee houses, commercial art galleries, and three National Historic Districts.

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