MV’s Chalk the Walk returns May 4 and 5

The City of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Parks and Recreation, the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Charitable Development Group (CCDG) have announced the dates for the 19th annual Chalk the Walk event, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival. The two-day festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at and along Mount Vernon’s historic 1st Street.

The large community piece this year will be “Frida Kahlo with Parrot” created by artist Alina Dalinina from Zhytomyr, Ukraine, and will be recreated live on the streets of Mount Vernon over a two-day period by dozens of festival-goers.

The piece is available for download here:

The image, inspired by self portraits created by Frida Kahlo during her lifetime, will be recreated in chalk mural form approximately 34’ x 44’ on Mount Vernon’s historic First Street. For a $10 donation to the event, artists of all ages, skill-levels and experiences will each use pure pigment pastel chalk sticks to create an assigned 2’ x 2’ square of the mural.

“Mount Vernon and the Chalk the Walk committee wanted a Frida Kahlo theme this year as this year’s festival corresponds with Cinco de Mayo,” said Matt Siders, Director of Parks and Rec for the City of Mount Vernon and Chair of the Chalk the Walk Committee. “We loved Dalinina’s colorful portraits reminiscent of Kahlo’s many self portraits, and are thrilled Dalinina gave us rights to recreate her artwork on festival grounds.”

This year’s event also will feature the work of dozens of artists creating original art in 8’ by 10’ rectangles chalked directly onto Mount Vernon’s historic 1st Street. Last year’s 1st Place Winner, Elizabeth Niemczyk, has been invited back to the event as the 2024 featured artist. Outdoor food vendors and musicians will be on hand throughout both days of the event.

More than $1,375 in cash prizes will be awarded to chalk artists this year, with a formal check presentation ceremony to take place Sunday afternoon, May 5.

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.”

An artist application is available here:

A food vendor application is available here:

A volunteer application is available here:

A sponsor app is available here:

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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