Wayne Renshaw is an architect by profession and Cheryl Renshaw is a landscape designer, but they still make time for street painting. This is their third year at the Danville festival but they have been street painting, or as they like to call it "playing in the streets," for nine years. The couple is going to appear at six festivals this year but particularly likes this one.
"We always enjoy the Danville Fine Arts Faire because it is an opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond," said Wayne Renshaw via e-mail.
"Here among the sculptors, painters, photographers and craftspeople, we are more than just 'Madonnari,' we are artists among artists. And when the people of Danville come by, they let us know how much they enjoy our work and make us feel welcome."
Italian street painting has been around for hundreds of years and was started in Europe by mostly poor artists looking to make pennies for their talent. The artists became known as "Madonnari" because they often drew the Madonna and her child.
The Renshaws first got a taste of the art when a friend invited them to Santa Barbara to help her paint a square at the I Madonnari Festival. Once they got their hands on pastels, they were hooked.
They consider the 12-by-12-foot square at the Danville Arts Faire to be a challenge because the large size requires a lot of detail. The artist couple knows this well from completing a 14-by-18-foot piece last year in San Luis Obispo.
Their process entails enlarging a photo, then transferring the image to computer paper and poking out the shape with a pounce wheel, which looks like a pizza cutter. This paper is put over the sidewalk and a sock filled with chalk goes over the lines plotting the outline of the images, which are then ready for filling with soft pastels.
Many street artists, like the Renshaws, create their own soft pastels to create custom colors. Hard street chalk, which is used by children, contains gypsum, found in drywall, and does not contain much pigment. Soft pastels offer more color to the sidewalk.
Pastel drawings on sidewalks last only a few days. This may seem disappointing, but for the Renshaws the art is in the creating.
"We think of street painting as a performance art," said Wayne Renshaw. "When the play is over the audience stands and goes home. The actor remembers their time on the stage just as we remember our time playing in the street."
The Renshaws will be only two out of 200 artisans at the fair. Sixty percent will be presenting fine art, while the other 40 percent will offer contemporary and traditional crafts. Culinary arts and cooking demonstrations will be on exhibit as well as entertainment for the kids.
"It is a great way to showcase to surrounding areas what Danville has to offer," said Melony Newman, CEO of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the fair. "It has a positive effect on our businesses. It is a great family event with great music and fun."
"I encourage people to come downtown," she added. "Meet your neighbors, meet new friends and make a weekend of it."
Fun, food, fine arts
What: 17th annual Danville Fine Arts Faire
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, June 21-22
Where: Downtown Danville
Who: Sponsored by the Danville Area of Commerce, the Town of Danville, and MLA Productions
Parking: Shuttle service on Sunday only from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. from the Park and Ride on Sycamore Valley Road, courtesy of Diablo Lodge
More information: Call 837-4400 or visit www.mlaproductions.com
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