By Royal Brevvaxling Special to Published May 09, 2012 at 9:02 AM

O'Lydia's Bar and Grill, 338 S. 1st St., is opening an art gallery on its second floor with a party, Friday, May 11, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

A co-production of Irie Vibez, ART Milwaukee and Milwaukee Odyssey, the event includes three bars inside O'Lydia's, the upstairs gallery where close to a dozen artists' work will be on display and where Marcus Doucette from 88.9 Sound Travels and Boxxx featuring ReB will perform.

Plus, in the parking lot across Florida Street to the south of O'Lydia's will sit a school bus that three artists will be painting all night. Floodlights will shine on the bus when it gets dark while a projector shows a series of independent films and video collages on the back, which will be pointing toward South 1st Street.

There will be a drum circle from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

"And we'll do a burn at sunset," says Christopher Roze, curator at ART Milwaukee and event creator with Milwaukee Odyssey.

The "burn" is a fire poi by Odyssey grupo de fuego; poi being performance art from the South Pacific in which tethered weights (lit on fire) and staffs (with fire on the ends) are swung through the evening air creating patterns of light.

Following the burn is more music and lots of it. Milwaukee's Undercover Organism begins around 9 p.m., Madison reggae and dub music by Natty Nation starts at 10 p.m. followed by R.A.S. Movement at 11:30 p.m.

Milwaukee's D'Amato starts at 1 a.m. and closes out the evening.

"D'Amato is an extraordinary individual," says Roze. "A crowd pleaser for sure."

Owen McGonegle, head chef at O'Lydia's, proposed the idea of having an event there to Roze and they approached Linda (Lydia) Sackett, owner of O'Lydia's, who was receptive to the idea.

"Owen is a longtime friend and a big supporter," says Roze.

A party bus leaves the parking lot of the Murray Pantry, which is across the street from the Jazz Estate, 2423 N. Murray Ave., to bring folks to O'Lydia's at 8 p.m.

"People from that end of town won't have to worry about drinking and driving. It's also worth pointing out that the Green line, formerly route 15, stops right in front of O'Lydia's," says Roze.

Catering at the event is by Take Home Owen, which is the name of McGonegle's business that teaches people to cook in their own homes.

ART Milwaukee supports local artists working in any medium through a number of avenues while engaging its mission to "enrich, empower and inspire our community through art."

Roze calls on hotels, cafes and other businesses where art can be displayed in order to get local artists' work in these spaces.

"The priority is to get people to view the art for as many hours a week as possible," says Roze.

The art at O'Lydia's will be up for at least two months.

Although Milwaukee Odyssey is basically a sole-proprietorship, Roze doesn't like to frame it that way. Preferring not to be "the face" of Odyssey, Roze also shies away from solo events and sees what he does less as event planning and more as participating in a movement.

"My formula is to bring in as many artists as possible, build networks and invite other groups to share," he says.

"Roze puts on these amazing events all across Milwaukee; he's a master curator," says Chris Couto, one half of the Couto Brothers (with brother Alex), the art team responsible for the large mural on the building at Pittsburgh and First Streets.

Roze has produced over 30 events and, keeping with his vision, often in collaboration with other groups. Friday's event has numerous co-producers and sponsors, including 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, Canny Photography, Local Playlist, Milwaukee Bicycle (MKEBKE), Christopher Mcintyre Perceptions, the Martini Girls Gallery, and Fun TV.

Roze started booking bands when he was 16 and living near Alpine Valley.

Roze left Alpine Valley seven years ago to travel the U.S. and the world. He's visited and lived for a few months at a time in Italy, France, Guatemala and Ecuador, meeting new friends and picking up experiences that have informed his work.

"I keep coming back to Milwaukee because it's close to home for me and I've found a lot of unique people here. Although some have left for places like Colorado, I've maintained all these friendships, like a networked family; it's just been very attractive to me," says Roze.

Roze also attended UW-Milwaukee for a while for nursing and clinical laboratory studies.

Other events Roze is currently planning include a Fratney Street block party for Turnaround Milwaukee on Sunday, June 3. Fratney will be blocked off during the afternoon from Center Street to Clarke Street. Live music will be at Stonefly Brewing Company, 735 E. Center St.

Turnaround Milwaukee is a group that supports local cooperatives and promotes sustainable practices. Roze plans to distribute calendars for scheduled clean-ups around the city, such as along rivers and highway ramps.

On Saturday, June 16, Roze is co-producing a fashion show called Dementia, to be held in the Grand Avenue Mall to raise awareness as well as money for the Alzheimer's Association.

In between events, you can catch Roze streaming on the Internet live at Riverwest Radio, Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Roze interviews artists on his program OLAi (which stands for Odyssey Local Artist interviews).

"We've done a few shows already and they're archived on the site. I do freestyle interviews with artists and they often talk about other things going on in Milwaukee that they're going to see," says Roze.

Royal Brevvaxling Special to
Royal Brevväxling is a writer, educator and visual artist. As a photo essayist, he also likes to tell stories with pictures. In his writing, Royal focuses on the people who make Milwaukee an inviting, interesting and inspiring place to live.

Royal has taught courses in critical pedagogy, writing, rhetoric and cultural studies at several schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is currently Adjunct Associate Professor of Humanities at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Royal lives in Walker’s Point with his family and uses the light of the Polish Moon to illuminate his way home.