Gallery Night and Day is a cultural gem that Milwaukee is lucky to have and other cities are right to envy. More than 50 galleries spread throughout the city, throwing their doors open for a two-day period dedicated to the appreciation of all things artistic? It doesn't get better.
But for some – especially those who are in the beginning stages of their art connoisseurship – the scope of the event can be a little daunting.
That's where the ART Bus comes in. For the past two years, Jeremy Fojut and his team at ART Milwaukee have been chauffeuring Gallery Night participants all around the city to and from the hottest galleries – but the ART Bus is so, so much more than just a convenient way to hitch a ride.
"It began as a way to take people to galleries," he told OnMilwaukee.com. "People are going to go to the Third Ward – that's where the majority of people go to - and a lot of the other galleries get left out. That's how the ART Bus got started. The idea was, get a bunch a people in a relaxed environment, give them a taste of each gallery, but in different neighborhoods. A lot of people who come on the bus may never have been to Riverwest or to Bay View, and it's really a mixture of young and old."
What Fojut really wants to provide is a mini road trip, all-inclusive and art-centric. ART Bus riders are treated to complimentary wine and beer, as well as the musical stylings of a live two-piece band accompanying them on the bus. More valuable than anything, however, is the sense of community fostered during the four-hour event.
"People meet a lot of people on the bus," Fojut said. "We offer a unique way for people who may not be complete art enthusiasts or who may not be into the art scene to give them a relaxed environment to kind of slowly get into the art scene. And then when we come into a gallery with a big group, you get to meet the artists and you don't feel lost not knowing where you're going around Gallery Night."
There is always an extended stop in the Third Ward, and the ART Milwaukee staff on the bus are happy to make recommendations about which galleries to visit. Every Gallery Night, the ART Bus will make a stop at a few new galleries to round out the experience for repeat attendees. Fojut says there are always a few surprise stops planned as well.
The ART Bus will depart from the City Center Building at 735 N. Water St. this Friday at 6:30, with registration beforehand. ART Bus riders will also be treated to complimentary Tazino's Pizza. Stops will include the Sky High Gallery, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center Gallery, Jackpot Gallery and Reginald Baylor's Artist Incubator Space.
Tickets are $25 for the ART Bus, and it regularly sells out before Gallery Night, says Fojut.But take heart: there's another Gallery Night in April, and the ART Bus is always running during the Bay View Gallery Nights, too (the next one is slated for May 31).
As of print time, there are only four spots left on Friday's bus. It's turned into a pretty hot ticket here in Milwaukee.
"A lot of people actually come from out of town," he says. "Our last ART Bus, we had a group of 11 people from New York who planned their whole vacation around it. It's a great way to experience the city and a great way to see the galleries and have a good time."
For more information on the ART Bus, visit artmilwaukee.com.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.