Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival ready to present portraits on pavement this weekend

The asphalt artists who transform the streets of downtown Lake Worth Beach into a temporary outdoor art museum every February are getting ready to — literally — lean into their work.

They’ll lay out their pieces of chalk in a rainbow of colors, don their floppy hats, apply a lot of sunscreen, strap on some knee pads and sketch outlines for their masterpieces on pavement. Will they choose a pet portrait, an eye-popping 3D piece, a cartoon character or a superstar athlete to showcase their street-art skills?

Visitors to this weekend’s Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival will find out, as more than 600 artists have been selected to set up along Lake and Lucerne avenues, turning the downtown’s main thoroughfares into makeshift canvases for onlookers who can watch the progress in real time.

COVID-19 regulations in early 2021 forced organizers to make a pandemic pivot: The festival went virtual through hashtags and social media posts.

Then the city of Lake Worth Beach took over the festival in June 2021, when its founding members, including artist coordinator and executive director Maryanne Webber, retired after nearly three decades of volunteering to organize the event.

The 2022 festival was the first one run by the city — with Lauren Bennett, director of Leisure Services Department, at the helm.

So how was the transition?

“Great,” she said. “City event staff worked the event logistics with the previous event organizer, so the only new addition to learn was registering and placing the artists.”

Every year, the event draws thousands of people to downtown Lake Worth Beach during its two-day run over the last weekend in February, but there were other reasons for keeping the tradition going for future generations, Bennett said.

“This event is a great way to show off just how amazing the city of Lake Worth Beach is,” she said. “The event is a wonderful way to bring so many members of our community together but, most importantly, it brings amazing art to life for everyone of all walks of life to appreciate and enjoy.”

The artists

Many street painting festival organizers around the country attribute the origins of street-side chalk art drawings to the 16th-century Italian artists who paid tribute to the religious symbol Madonna. Called the Madonnari, the artists used chalk and pastels to draw depictions of the Virgin Mary onto pavement.

The Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival pays homage to that tradition. Participating artists send in an application and are selected by a committee.

“The artwork needs to be appropriate for a family friendly event,” Bennett said about the selection process.

Going into her 26th year participating in the festival, Delray Beach graphic designer Jeanie Burns said she appreciates that the artists’ “participation is not juried as many festivals are, so it allows artists of all ages and creative capabilities to participate and to learn from more experienced artists.

“They freely share techniques and encourage each other,” she added. “The camaraderie that develops while working among artists whose work you respect is a bonus.”

Burns said she plans to draw a colorful portrait, which has become her “wheelhouse” as an artist.

“Since I am largely self-taught, watching artists with advanced proficiency helped me develop my own technique. I learn something new every time I’m down on the pavement,” she said. “Each year, I try to select an image that will push me beyond my comfort zone.

“When you’re working that large [a space] — in public — you’re working without a net. But you push through the fear, and hopefully produce something you can be proud of.”

She said her visibility at previous Lake Worth Beach festivals has led to invitations to others across the United States, from California to New York, as well as internationally, in Italy and Canada.

“Since most folks only see the end product of an artist’s work hanging on a wall or in a gallery, being able to watch as artists put chalk down, adding layers to create form and shadows, allows viewers to see the process as it’s created,” Burns said. “There are as many methods as there are artists, so seeing the variety of techniques can be fascinating, too.”

She sees the impermanence of the art form as a good thing. The clock is ticking on the art’s lifespan as cars begin to zoom across it on Monday morning, or as a rain shower threatens to wash it away. It is inevitable: The piece will gradually disappear, leaving a blank slate for next year.

“I also believe people appreciate its ephemeral nature. Street painting is a performance art, much like a musical concert or theatrical performance, you have to be there to get the full impact,” she said. “You can always take pictures, but watching art emerge over the course of two days, and seeing it up close, is where the real magic happens.”

Visit, or search “izzitmagic” on Instagram to view her art.

Don’t miss

There’s more to the festival than just the art, with downtown Lake Worth Beach shops and restaurants open, as well as three new stages for entertainment and food vendors dishing out everything from ice cream to kettle corn, Bennett said. There will also be musical performances.

For a full schedule of performers , visit and click on “Schedule and Lineup.”

If you go

WHAT: Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival

WHAT: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: In downtown Lake Worth Beach, along Lake and Lucerne avenues between Dixie and Federal highways

COST: Free admission, with food and beverage available for purchase through vendors and restaurants

GETTING THERE: For Tri-Rail riders (ticket required), free festival shuttles will make loops from the Lake Worth Beach Tri-Rail station (1703 Lake Worth Road) to downtown from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. Park & Ride is available at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth Campus (4200 S. Congress Ave.). Park at the college and ride a free shuttle to Lake Worth Beach City Hall (7 N. Dixie Highway; across from the festival) and back from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. both days.

INFORMATION: 561-533-7395;