Street Painting Festivals
From The Founder
In 1992, I was at a party at artist Homer Johns’s home in Naples, Fl. On the front of his tiki bar was poster of a partially completed, renaissance-looking painting. A woman was kneeling on the portrait subject’s nose. The painting itself must be massive, I reasoned…ten or twelve feet tall, and nearly as wide.
I asked Homer about the poster, and he told me it was of a street painting, at a festival where dozens of such paintings are created. Can I go see them now, I asked. He said no, that street paintings all washed away within a week or so.
“It’s not about the finished work,” he said.
Two-and-a-half years later, in 1994, I presented Via Colori®, Naples’s first celebration of creativity.
I understood. It’s about the act of creation, the moment when art becomes…well, art.
In the ensuing 25-years, more than 100 Via Coloris have been held in 14 cities. More than 10,000 artists have created large-scale, chalk pastel works of art. More than 5000 volunteers have worked the events. Attendance at the events topped 500,000 people. More than $8 million dollars have been raised for causes ranging from helping deaf kids hear, to sheltering abuse victims, to preserving historic architecture and others.
Via Colori has brought me many moments of grace, beauty and humor. It is moving for artists to create together, something they do not get to do very often. Almost all speak of their Via Colori experience in solemn tones.
Several experiences stand out, though. Certainly, none is more prominent than the artist who painted at Via Colori in several cities over the course of several years. At one, she proudly announced to me that she was pregnant, and that she was having a girl. She told me she planned to name her daughter "Via."
In the 2008 economic crisis, sponsorships evaporated and many Vias did not survive. The pandemic of 2020 marked the demise of one of the two remaining. In 2020, the surviving (and thriving) Via Colori in Louisville, KY, postponed and adapted. It continues, thanks to the work of a dedicated, talented and innovative leader and committee.
But 2020 is the first time in 26-years there has been no public celebration of creativity in the form of Via Colori.
I am fortunate to have brought Via Colori to all of these: the artists, the charities, the sponsors and the public. I am deeply grateful to all.
Founder Via Colori®