To reinvigorate a West Wisconsin Avenue parking lot this summer, Newaukee has announced plans for the first-of-its-kind night market.
The free open-air markets will inhabit an otherwise stagnant lot between the Boston Store on North 4th Street and the Hilton Milwaukee City Center on North 5th Street.
The markets are part of Milwaukee’s Creational Trails project, an initiative led by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) and funded by a $350,000 grant Milwaukee received from ArtPlace America last May. The project is energizing two Milwaukee sites in need of greater visibility and activity – West Wisconsin Avenue and a former rail corridor linking Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods.
During Newaukee’s night markets, to be held one Wednesday evening a month from July through October, the social architecture firm will feature a mixture of art and craft vendors, technology installations, food trucks, live art, performances and music.
Night markets will also incorporate a beer garden and offer “urban tours,” during which local artist Sarah Luther will guide patrons along Wisconsin Avenue to point out historical and architectural highlights of the area.
Newaukee is essentially taking the concept of a day-time market and transforming it into a family-friendly, entertainment-driven event, said Jeremy Fojut, chief idea officer of Newaukee and the brains behind the night market.
“Everybody knows what a market is,” Fojut said. “It’s one of these things that people are comfortable with already, and we’re adding layers and layers of programming on top of it.”
Newaukee hopes to color night markets with a diverse group of vendors that “truly represent the City of Milwaukee,” Fojut said.
“We’re looking for many different representations and not just the typical market that represents one neighborhood,” he said.
The market will also be anchored by two large-scale art installations created by artists from December’s public Tournavation events. Those events, facilitated by the Neawukee, called for public input about how to activate the Creational Trails project along West Wisconsin Avenue.
One project, the Morie Pavilion designed by artist and architect Paul Bestul, will frame the parking lot with a whimsical walkway of wooden beams. The other project, artist Ayla Boyle’s dream catcher concept, will position a bungee structure above and between a series of buildings near Wisconsin Avenue.
Both artworks are temporary and will be removed at the end of October. The site will be converted back into a standard parking lot for winter months.
Newaukee is in the process of planning additional summer programming for the downtown parking lot and will likely reveal more details in early June, according to Fojut.
The buzz of summer activity, particularly the markets, will contribute to a stronger downtown community, Newaukee hopes.
“Why don’t we create a market for hopefully the entire city?” Fojut said.
For more information on the night markets, click here.