Bay View residents and visitors don’t have to wait until September’s Bay View Bash for a colorful street festival. The artists at Milwaukee Artbeat, a Bay View collective, present the fifth annual Artbeat in the Heat on Aug. 23. A slew of artists and musicians will turn South Greeley Street into festival central.
Event organizers and visual artists Amanda Iglinski and Ryan Laessig say the event is designed to split its focus between visual art and music. A variety of vendors in tents and musicians will set up around Hide House — a Bay View building that offers studio space for artists.
The location keeps the event tucked away off the main street, making it more of an enclave than other street festivals. “People sit there with their family all day, and just hang out, and listen to music, and eat food, and look at art,” Iglinski says. “What else would you rather do?”
This year’s musical lineup features everything from rock and hip-hop to bluegrass and ska. On the schedule are such bands as the WAMI Award-winning Max & the Invaders, Annie B and the Complication, Kane Place Record Club and Fresh Cut Collective.
Featured artists work in a variety of media, including spray paint, leather, blown glass and terrariums. Also on tap are skateboard demos sponsored by Sky High Skate Shop, the painting of a mural to be hung from the side of Hide House and a variety of food trucks.
“Diversity is definitely the name of the game,” Laessig says. “You can go to a show on Friday night at this bar or that bar, and it’s all the same type of music: rock or jazz or whatever. So we want to make sure we get everybody that’s interested in some type of music to come out and have a good time.”
Laessig says the event started out as a small block party, but has grown over the years into the summer event for the neighborhood, largely due to its appeal as both a family and adult event.
“From like noon to 4 or 5, come with the family,” Laessig says. “And then, once the sun starts to go down, put the kids with the baby sitter and come out with your friends and have a good time.”
Iglinski credits musician and Artbeat founder Annie B. with the original idea for the festival, which grew out of smaller shows she organized for artists to display and discuss their work. Artbeat still hosts at least one of those shows annually, usually in February or March.
“We decided that we needed to do one big show a year — with art, music, dance and everything,” Iglinski says. “We try (to) create as many types of art as possible.”
The annual Artbeat in the Heat festival raises money for a different nonprofit each year — this year’s recipient is Groundworks, a group that cultivates urban gardens and promotes other greening initiatives.
Laessig says Hide House has grown into an arts hub for Bay View, and the community has responded in kind, building Artbeat in the Heat into a popular event.
“The neighborhood definitely gets behind it,” he says. “It’s cool that it can happen at the Hide House, because it is kind of like an arts and music incubator.”
Artbeat in the Heat is centered around Hide House, 2625 S. Greeley St., Milwaukee, noon-10 p.m. on Aug. 23. Admission is free. Go to milwaukeeartbeat.org for more information.