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Buy Local Art Jamboree
Artists and artwork of every kind invaded Grand Avenue Mall.

Approaching three years of providing our community with multiple avenues to experience art, 
ART Milwaukee continues to find innovative ways to put artists in front of people and prove the economic value of art.

They hosted the first-ever Buy Local Art Jamboree that took over Grand Avenue Mall last Saturday from 2-10 p.m. The event, which featured dance, music, theater, visual, and live art, was free and open to the public. There were more than 100 artists and 50 vendors with exotic eats and cocktails. I went in the afternoon and the crowds were kind of sporadic, but picked up in the early evening. As with most of the Art Jamboree events I’ve been to, the artwork for sale and on display hit every range of amateur to professional, traditional to abstract.

The former Old Navy space was the hub of it all, named the Okanjo Buy Local Bazaar with paintings, prints, hand-blown glass, handmade clothing, the Bronzeville Jazz Quartet and much more. I really enjoyed the variety of artists and the opportunity to see them at work, alongside their finished products. Writer and performer Anja Notanja allowed guests to be a part of her creative process by writing poetry commissions on the spot. Perched in front of a dusty blue typewriter, she looked like a secretary right out of Mad Men. “I did 12 letters in four hours. They were mostly love letters, but a few insults and a couple of letters written by customer's pets,” she later reported in an email. 

UPAF member groups like the Skylight and the Florentine Opera, Renaissance Theaterworks and Danceworks were on hand to talk about their work and Stone Creek coffee even featured coffee brewing demonstrations. 

Illustrator Roberto Rivera Padro caught my eye with his vivid comic-book-worthy drawings and prints. He was happy to be part of the event, which was free of charge for all of the participating artists. Organizers actually accommodated him the night before the event. 

All images by Jenna Kashou.

My old friend from Pfister Artist-in-Residence fame, Timothy Westbrook, was all set up in his new studio offering barter bins of art and craft supplies. He had his famous cassette tape woven neckties and scarves for sale and on display. When I stopped by, there was a gaggle of his apprentices holding down the fort and showing their work because Timothy was (no surprise) out for a few hours supporting other artists.

Cache salsa band, with the help of Samba dancers, turned the lower level Milwaukee Public Theatre ARTivity space into a Carnevale parade later in the evening, which I unfortunately missed, but I imagine that was the climax of the event.

ART Milwaukee must be doing something right because it was just announced that they will help the Greater Milwaukee Committee carry out a $350,000 public art project in Riverwest and along west Wisconsin Avenue. The grant came from ArtPlace America, a consortium of national funders focused on using art to revitalize communities.

Hey you! Follow me on Twitter @jkashou and search #GirlAboutTown to stay on top of what’s happening around town.

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