JACKSON, Mich. — Bright Walls is back in downtown Jackson for its fourth year. Thursday night marks the start of the weekend-long event.
Founder and co-director Clay McAndrews says they were fortunate to pull off the festival last year.
Thursday night is the debut of “bright paws,” a dog pageant show. Friday there will be live music.
“On Friday, we have a fun live concert. Starting at five o’clock, we’ll have live music leading up to FiftyAmpFuse, which is a Michigan favorite band. And, the whole concert is free for everyone. And we’ll have food trucks all on site. Music goes until 11 o’clock at night,” McAndrews said.
Saturday finishes out the festival with local artists.
“Starting at noon, we have 10 artists who live in Jackson. They’ll have six hours to paint a parking lot space. At the end of that six hours, the crowd gets to vote on the winner,” McAndrews said.
Saturday evening will feature magic.
“We have two free magic shows by Daniel Martin the magician. We have a great, another live free concert...There’s also a scavenger hunt. It’s really popular with families and it gets you traversing all over Jackson County," McAndrews said.
Organizers say it will be slightly different this year but are ready to have the events back after they had to go forward without them in 2020.
“So we have one mural being painted this year. The mural is being painted by Greetings Tour. They’re a couple that travels the United States and their mission is to paint a greetings from postcard style mural in every single state in the United States.”
Victor Ving and his wife, Lisa, have spent five years living on the road in a motorhome as they painted murals across the United States.
“This project started, Lisa and I were dating in New York. We painted a greetings from Chinatown mural, unconsciously referencing this kind of style at the time,” Victor Ving said.
And people paid attention.
“With that mural, I just saw such a positive reaction from the community, people that normally wouldn’t care," he said. "They were very interested. They were proud of the work, which is what we hope will happen here. We kind of took a road trip, maybe 2014. People live on the road, we’re like, 'Why don’t we just try doing this for a year?' We got an RV and did it for a year. Next thing you know we were six years deep on the road.”
The greetings from Jackson postcard mural is located next to Jackson Coffee Company on the corner of Mechanic and Cortland streets.
“In this one, the J and A is the Cascades. In the C is the county tower. We have a little falcon up top. His name is Big Red which actually lives on top of the county tower along with the coney dog which originated here. The K, we have the clock tower and actually we’ve painted a mural within the mural, which is a little tribute to bright walls. The S is going to be a falling waters trail with Lime Lake. A little recreation with some kayakers and boating in there. The O and N is attributed to the hot air jubilee. We’ll have a skyline and Jackson at the bottom too,” Ving said.
Ving wants the locals to feel a sense of hometown pride and ownership of the postcard mural and says everyone has been “super nice” and appreciative of their work in Jackson.
Over the years artists from all over the world have come to Jackson to showcase their artistic skills from the Netherlands, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Italy and Canada.
Or as McAndrews says, “just about every continent is covered here in Jackson, Michigan.”
“It really has become a crown jewel for us. The community is really proud of it,” McAndrews said. “It’s making people want to visit Jackson who otherwise have never been here before. So, it’s really helping with tourism.”
This year artists painted “Bright Boxes.”
Organizers are featuring artwork from artists across the globe, installed on large electrical boxes. McAndrews says it allows them to showcase talented artists who they can't host in person due to COVID-19 restrictions.
You can see those boxes down Michigan Avenue in downtown Jackson from artists ranging from London, England’s Woskerski who painted a giant sunny side up egg to Los Angeles, California’s Brendan Monroe.
Bright Walls started in 2018, featuring 15 artists. McAndrews says it really spiraled and snowballed after that.
But 2022 will be the final year. After 41 murals. McAndrews says they’re running out of wal ls.
“It really has attracted lots of people from all over the Midwest and beyond to Jackson who have never been here before. It’s exciting and keeps us all going. I love seeing the foot traffic in downtown Jackson,” McAndrews said.
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