About 500 residents of Silver City and visitors to the neighborhood strolled down National Avenue recently and watched as chefs cooked ethnic meals, break dancers competed in a tournament and painters created artwork.
The International Food and Art Walk on National between 34th and 39th was the site of the first-ever Silver City International Food and Art Walk.
“The purpose of the event is to showcase the neighborhood’s rich and diverse culture while promoting the small businesses that are located in the corridor,” according to Natanael Martinez, economic development manager at Layton Boulevard West Neighbors.
“We created the event to invite new visitors to the neighborhood for a great experience revolving around art, music, dance and all the great restaurants that offer cuisines from all over the world,” Martinez added.
Maxie Brooks-Derzay, a local artist, said she came to the International Food and Art Walk because a friend from ART Milwaukee told her about it. Her friend said that to participate, all Brooks-Derzay needed to do was paint.
“I just brought myself here and set (my artwork) up,” she said. “(Artists) could do whatever we wanted just as long as it’s on the couple of blocks.” Brooks-Derzay worked on several abstract paintings. She added that she finds painting relaxing, and enjoyed painting in a different environment.
Martinez noted that the event keeps local kids out of trouble.
“We feel that if kids have access to positive outlets to express their creativity, it can lead to higher self esteem and help them to avoid activities that are harmful to their future.”
Art Milwaukee partnered with Layton Boulevard West Neighbors to put on the event, which also included a break dancing tournament and an open mic spoken word tournament.
Caroline Seiler, a senior at Marquette University, said she especially liked the food samplings and the break dance contest. “(I) will definitely come back to the various restaurants,” she added.
“We have had people say that they enjoyed the event and want to see it grow,” noted Martinez. “Others expressed how events like this made them more proud to live in the Silver City neighborhood.”