Street Painting

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Drake Street Painting

Originally Submitted by: Nathan Bryngelson, Drake University, Dec 11, 2010.


Into The Street Painting

Drake Relays is a very exciting time of the year for everyone at Drake University, Alum, and everyone that is part of the Drake community. One of the most anticipated traditions of Relays is the annual street painting that puts a start to the Drake Relays week. Different student organizations ranging from sororities to the Drake band decorate a square on the painted street that runs along Carpenter Avenue. This sidewalk runs right through the middle of campus in-between Cowles Library and Jewett Hall [1].

According to Drake’s alumni and parent relations, Blake Campbell, he said, “he looks for Downtown Street Painting to become an annual Relays event, just like Campus Street Painting, a tradition that dates back to the 1970’s” [2].

Past Street Painting

The street painting dates back to even before the 1980’s, where the chemistry club won the competition in 1980 for the best-painted square [Times Delphic]. Each year there is a declared winner of the street painting. However just painting the square isn’t the hardest part, being put on the list is a difficult process. Many organizations are put on a waiting list for their turn to paint a square on the famous painted street at Drake University. For awhile the street painting always had a couple individuals that used to streak through the street. Although this doesn't happen as much during the last few years, it still does happen on occasion.

Painted Street Photo By Google Earth (6)
Final Touchs To A Square Photo By Sylvia Garcia (4)

Marc Topkin said, “I realized the competition was based on a party atmosphere. A sound system blared all kinds of music and nearly everyone carried an open can or bottle of something to drink”[5]. (This was in 1980, where drinking laws were a lot less strict and this wouldn’t be the case at current street paintings each year.)

Street Painting History

Street originated in Italy in the 16th century. Most images that were painted on streets were portraits of Madonna, eventually producing the name madonnaro, a name that was given to early street painters. Which didn’t show up in the U.S. until around the 1980’s. The first international street painting festival wasn’t until 1972 in Grazie Di Curtatone. Comune di Curtatone came to be an annual event similar to the Street Painting event that occurs at Drake University during the Drake Relays. [7]

Street Painting Downtown Des Moines

Downtown Allied Insurance Square Photo By Unknown Artist (10)

Last year during Drake’s 101th anniversary the Drake Relay fever spread through out Des Moines bringing the street painting downtown on Court Avenue where squares were painted. More then 200 people were downtown on Court Avenue participating in the downtown street painting. 41 squares were decorated with local business slogans and organizations that they represented[drake u news]. Teams of up to five are made to participate in the downtown event. The theme was Relays 101 so this is represented in each design along with a business or organization [8].

“The 54 spaces are really a coveted space,” Latasha Stiger said, Director of Campus Programming. “Since it’s a competition, the students really try to make the best design. The designs are then displayed on campus for the entire year and are visible to many people such as prospective students and others” [9].