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Art, music and food, Bright Walls festival returns to downtown Jackson for its swan song

Bright Walls
Bright Walls
Bright Walls
Bright w
Bright Walls
Bright Walls
Posted at 2:15 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 16:58:29-04

JACKSON, Mich. — Bright Walls has been a downtown Jackson event since 2018. People from all over come to check out huge murals, listen to music and have fun. Now in its fifth year, the days-long event is hosting its grand finale.

According to Bright Walls team member Leslie McAndrews, the final year is bittersweet.

“The team of 18 volunteers, who have coordinated this event from the state, have put so much of their talents into making sure that this is an all-star event for Jackson, and while it’s bittersweet, we know that we have set out what we wanted to do and making Jackson a destination for art and culture and really just making it a vibrant, bright spot for our communities,” she said.

By the end of this weekend, 75 murals will have been painted within two walking square blocks of downtown Jackson by both local and international artists.

Take Ledania, for example, who came from Bogota, Colombia. She explains what her mural that she’s already spent days painting means.

Bright Walls
Ledania working on her mural at Bright Walls in downtown Jackson

“I have a small idea to have this friend of mine, that I really love him so much and he passed away,” she said. “So, I’m doing this tribute to his life and taking care of me and the cats that he used to have and all these dreams that I have with him, and I know he’s taking care of me and my dreams.”

Local artist Kevin Burdick from Flint says he’s impressed to see this event in Jackson. Burdick was here 15 years ago with his parents participating in the Hot Air Jubilee.

“To come back and see what you guys have done down here with all the murals, it’s amazing. I’m super happy to be part of it,” he said.

Burdick said he’s excited for the weekend to gear up.

Bright Walls
Kevin Burdick at his mural in a downtown Jackson alley during Bright Walls

“I love seeing kind of the younger crowd look at these murals, and see the potential of the life of an artist and seeing that you can do this stuff for a living and just seeing how happy it makes them when they walk around, it fills the soul,” he said.

But, it won’t just be artists painting. Over the next several days, people can enjoy dozens of food trucks and live music such as tribute band Your Generation, which is playing Friday.

Organizers say there will be more than 30 performing acts between two stages during the festival.

Saturday, it’s back to the 90s themed with live music featuring Fresh Kids of Bel-Air and The Verve Pipe. They will also have a mini mural competition.

And on Sunday, families can enjoy face painting, chalk contests as well as the Detroit Pistons drum line performing for free.

Organizers expect 40,000 people to check out the multi-day festival. That was how many came in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted it.

“There has been great economic impact to Jackson because of all the foot traffic that comes to downtown now,” McAndrews said. “Local businesses thrive during Bright Walls week but even after there’s also a sense of pride for community members to be able to say that Bright Walls only happens in Jackson.”

The finale runs through Sunday, rain or shine, ending with a Beatles tribute band The Fab Four.

For more information on Bright Walls click here.

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Joe Gebhardt

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1:52 PM, Dec 16, 2020

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