Via Arte festival paints the Marketplace


Kayla Olivieri

Features Reporter

Bakersfield’s local professional and student artists brought life to the Marketplace parking lot with their talent and street art.

Celebrating its 20th year, the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s Annual Via Arté Italian Street Painting Festival came alive with artists young and old, art of different techniques and origins, and street performers.

Participating artists at any skill level were encouraged to be creative and “draw their inspiration from the Masters – reminiscent of the classic Italian Street Painting style,” said Erwin Ledford, media and marketing coordinator for the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

Via Arté is the largest yearly fundraiser for the Bakersfield Museum of Art, while being a sponsored, free community event.

The festival expected to see thousands of visitors from Bakersfield, Kern County, and beyond to gather and view the chalk art masterpieces laid out on the asphalt of Bakersfield’s Marketplace shopping center parking lot.

Hundreds of artists transformed the pavement into chalk works of art while music from a live band played, clowns made balloon animals for children, and families of onlookers buzzed around.

Beth Chaney, a California State University art education major alumnus and now art teacher at West High School in Bakersfield, was one of the professional artists that participated in the festival.

“I have been doing this for 15 years. I try to choose something topical or relevant at the time, and I love doing portraits. This year’s portrait is Anthony Bourdain,” Chaney said.

Chaney feels honored and loves being involved in Via Arté every year as it is such an iconic and exciting event in the community.

“This is a great thing for the community to bring awareness to art and get the community involved and have people come and support it and be a part of it. I love doing public art too,” Chaney said.

Chaney has been involved with Via Arté since she was a junior in high school and she hoped that others feel the passion and excitement she does. “Just come out and see the process! It’s really cool to see the different stages [of the art pieces] from beginning to end, and see the different techniques and styles using the chalk. It is really cool to see the talent in your own community.”

The artists began with a grid so that when they are drawing their planned piece on such a large scale, especially portraits like Chaney’s piece, they can keep the proportions right.

On the other side of the parking lot from the professionals was the children’s area. There groups of high school students, middle school students, girl scout troops, children, and families could be found working on their masterpieces.

Jiya Barnes, Indiana Vargas, and Rylee Robberstad are eighth grade students from Rosedale Middle School, and were proud of their art piece they had prepped and worked on.

“I honestly wanted something artistic and cultural for our art piece. I researched for cultural, colorful, abstract art and this one came up. It is called ‘Audrey of Mulberry’ and I thought it was perfect,” Barnes said about the process of choosing what art piece they would model at the festival.

Although Barnes wants to be a doctor and “help others” in her future, art is a passion of hers.

“I feel amazing being involved in Via Arté. It feels so awesome. I am really excited about this whole thing.”

In addition to trained artists, young aspiring artists of all ages were present and worked on their pieces. In the Via Bambino Children’s Art area, small squares of pavement could be purchased along with chalk to allow kids to express their own creativity invoking their vision, talent, and love of art.

For more information on Via Arté and the Bakersfield Museum of Art, visit