High School Challenge
Call for Artists
La Piazza - June 6 & 7, 2009

-- Click here to download the application form (PDF) --

La Piazza on Larimer Square is reaching out once again in 2009 to give high schools the chance to compete for cash prizes that will go to their respective school’s visual arts departments. This is truly a unique way to both show school spirit as well as fund your school’s arts programs.

The Event
La Piazza is an award-winning Italian street painting festival that transforms the expanse of asphalt along Larimer Square into a bright and colorful street museum. Over the course of two days, 200 professional, amateur, and student artists captivate audiences as they take to the pavement armed with vivid pastel chalks and spend hours on their hands and knees recreating major masterpieces. 150,000 festival attendees enjoy Italian food and ambience as they watch beautiful chalk pieces come to life.

The Tradition
The event follows street painting traditions that originated in 16th century Renaissance Italy when artists began transforming asphalt into canvas using chalk. The artists were called “madonnari,” after their customary practice of recreating chalk paintings of the Madonna. Historically, madonnari were known for their life of travel and freedom, making their living from coins received from passers-by. With World War II came many hardships, greatly reducing the number of these artists. The art form was not officially brought back to life until 1972 when the small town of Grazie di Curtatone in Italy started the first International Street Painting Competition. Today, artists worldwide are taking to the streets, bringing with them new ideas, techniques, and excitement for this ancient form of expression. Handmade French pastels have replaced the simple chalks previously used and the paintings have become complicated images of traditional master-style works, modern pieces, and surreal chalk creations.

The Challenge
La Piazza dell’Arte will have ten spots available for teams from Colorado high schools to create their own works of art in the time-honored tradition of Italian street painting - with chalk as the medium and the pavement as the canvas.

Groups of up to six students will be formed into teams, each representing their own school, and given chalk pastels to create their work of art. Along with the chalk, Larimer Arts Association will also supply each team with pieces of carpeting to lay on the pavement, water throughout the weekend, complimentary breakfast and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday, and festival t-shirts.

The Art
Students or schools choose their own project. Students may re-create an existing masterpiece by a famous artist, re-create an original image, create a new piece that has never been seen before, or portray an image representative of their school, neighborhood, city, class, etc. It is recommended that each group work from a smaller scale of the image and map out the image on the pavement prior to beginning the coloring process. Larimer Arts Association can provide street painting tips and procedures to each school, and our professional madonnari will host a workshop on the Friday evening prior to the event.

The Artists
In 2008, the event featured 150 artists who created “paintings” throughout Larimer Square. The majority of the artists had never worked in pastels before, with nearly all of the artists working on pavement for the first time ever. Even so, the pieces that were created were magnificent and we hope nearly all of the artists from 2008 will return in 2009. Check www.larimerarts.org for photos!

The Prizes
The 1st place selection will win $300 in art supplies for their school, the 2nd place school will win $200 in art supplies, and the 3rd place creation will win $100 in art supplies for their school. Additional prizes will be finalized in June, 2009.

The Details
If you, your club, your art class, your teacher, or your school is interested in applying for one of this year’s spots, complete the application form and send to the following:

Larimer Arts Association
Attn: Radhika Mahanty
1430 Larimer St., Suite 200
Denver, CO 80202

If you still have questions about art or technique:
Michael Rieger:
          mike@larimerarts.org * 303-685-8124

If you have general event questions:
Radhika Mahanty:
          radhika@larimerarts.org * 303.534.2367 x 120 from Monday-Friday between 9:00am and 5:00pm.

-- Click here to download the application form (PDF) --

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