When I was in Italy, I saw lots of artists creating beautiful sidewalk art like this man drawing Girl With a Pearl Earring in Siena. They seemed to be enjoying their endeavors and appeared to be collecting a decent amount of money. This got me wondering, why don’t they do this in New York City?
Once in a while, artists do draw on the sidewalk in NYC. I have no idea if sidewalk art is legal here or in Italy. Regardless, it’s nowhere near as popular as in Italy. You’re far more likely to find street musicians and dancers than artists. Italian cities have a lot more open sidewalk space thanks to plazas big and small and I guess the artists just want to fill those blank canvases. Artists flock to Italy for inspiration and while they’re getting inspired they want to make some money too.
My other theory is that the sidewalk artists would make far more money in Italy they would in the US because of the currency. Bystanders would frequently drop in one-euro coins and I’m sure more than a few confused (or perhaps just generous) tourists donated two-euro coins. While, dollar coins do exist here, they’re quite unpopular. And since people tend to throw coins rather than bills, the recipients are at a distinct disadvantage. After all, a quarter is worth less than a fifth of euro. Remembering that I can easily hold $10 coins in my hand is always a challenge when I’m in Europe since U.S. coins are worth so much less. And remembering not to lose the coins at the bottom of my purse is even harder.