Third annual Mural and Busker Festival happening this weekend
By Janelle Fisher
City Pages Editor
A colorful crew of artists and performers will fill the streets of Green Bay’s Broadway District this weekend, June 17 and 18, to take part in On Broadway, Inc.’s Mural and Busker Festival.
The festival, which was put on for the first time in 2021, surrounds attendees with art as murals come to life on the walls and buskers — including jugglers, stilt walkers, human statues, aerial dancers and more — captivate audiences with their live performances.
“We are so excited to be hosting the Mural and Busker Festival for its third year. Each year we commission 10 murals in the Broadway District and fill the streets with buskers,” Brooke Hafs, director of marketing for On Broadway, Inc., said. “I believe the community has become more familiar with the term busker and is enjoying the concept. These street performers add an element of performance art to the event and help create an immersive experience that is everything art. Your senses are overloaded with talent when you walk through the district taking in sights, sounds and beauty all around you. This year we have a nice mix of buskers demonstrating a variety of skills and artistic abilities. You will find musicians, belly dancers, circus performers, poets and so much more. We have some returning performers and some new ones!”
In addition to being surrounded by art, Hafs said attendees of this year’s Mural and Busker Festival will also have an opportunity to participate in the art.
“There is a community mural this year. Heather Peterman will be leading this project on the barricades in front of The Fort at the Railyard construction site,” she said. “Heather is a three-time returning artist to this event. People can come out and help paint and learn!”
The community mural is not the only learning experience taking place at the festival, though, Hafs said.
“Also, SAGE is sponsoring a young artist (Aleesha Ocasio) to paint a mural behind Platten Place,” she said. “This is meant to be a mentorship-style project where the young artist will learn how to create a mural from start to finish.”
Ocasio, a Latinx artist and student at John Dewey Academy of Learning, will be the youngest contributor to the Mural and Busker Festival.
Joining Ocasio to add color to the buildings of Broadway will be an array of artists from near and far, including Peter Koury, who already has one mural in the Broadway District; Erin LaBonte and Don Krumpos, the founders of Yonder, a creative space and storefront in Algoma; Andrey Kravtsov (KEY DETAIL), a New York-based artist with murals in Europe, Asia and across the U.S.; Matthew Mederer, a self-taught artist whose art has been utilized by brands such as Vans, and TV shows such as NBC’s Chicago P.D.; Pablo Riesco (Kalaka), a contemporary muralist with pieces in a large number of cities around the world; Sylvia Hecht, a nomadic artists who draws inspiration from her travels; Natasha Platt, a New York-based artist whose work is inspired by the color and rhythm of textile traditions, as well as her personal connection to nature and meditative states; John Kowalczyk, who oversees large-scale community and public art projects throughout the City of Milwaukee from his position as the artist in residence program director for Artists Working in Education; and Heather Peterman, a Midwest artist whose art has been on displayed at several venues around the greater Green Bay area.
“This year several artists are from out of state,” Hafs said. “On Broadway is supporting some local artists and bringing in talent from as far away as New York. We are excited to watch the artists interact and learn from one another. This event is a great networking opportunity for artists and the community to learn about art, different styles and more!”
Hafs said this year’s muralists were carefully selected by community members, taking into account a variety of factors before making a final decision.
“Our organization created a committee of members in the art community to assist with artist selection,” she said. “Each artist needs to apply with samples of their artwork. We aim to bring in artists of different backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, skill-levels and geographical locations.”
It was actually feedback from local artists, Hafs said, that prompted the inclusion of some less local artists in this year’s festival.
“We love supporting our local artists but also have received feedback that there is a lot of value in bringing in artists from outside of our area as well so we can bring a wide variety of art to our community,” she said. “It is fun to watch the artists interact and learn from one another.”
All of the artists participating in the Mural and Busker Festival are helping to work towards On Broadway’s goal to bring beauty, color and welcoming public spaces to Broadway.
“It is a big part of our mission to beautify the Broadway District with public art and to support our local art community,” Hafs said. “We have researched revitalization efforts in cities across the nation and we find that the implementation of public art is a large contributor to the success of a downtown area. Public art makes spaces feel safe, clean, and active.”
Helping to make public art, like the pieces created during the Mural and Busker Festival, are the various businesses which call the Broadway District home.
“We work closely with business and property owners who have an interest in beautifying the Broadway District with us,” Hafs said. “Most are very receptive and supportive of this festival and some even contribute financially to the artwork. It is a very collaborative effort and most people see the value in public art.”
Hafs said that as much as Broadway business and property owners support the cultivation of public art in the district, that public art has the potential to support them, too.
“We can transform spaces into places where people want to spend time and elongate their stay in our district, which will lead to them spending more money in our district. Our businesses will thrive and succeed if we create a dense and walkable downtown that is pleasing to the eye.”
The 10 murals commissioned for this year’s Mural and Busker Festival will add to the nearly 30 murals already on display within the Broadway District. A map of the Broadway District’s existing murals and public art installations and details about each piece can be found at downtowngreenbay.com/visit/publicart.
To learn more about the Mural and Busker Festival, including the locations of this year’s murals and buskers, visit downtowngreenbay.com/explore/broadway-events/mural-and-busker-festival.