Jeramey Jannene

Move Over RNC, ‘Great Cosmopods’ To Take Over Milwaukee’s Beaches

30-foot 'sea creatures' part of ArtBlaze, a series of four free events to liven up summer.

By - Jun 18th, 2024 10:49 am
Image courtesy of Joy Engine.

Image courtesy of Joy Engine.

One of Milwaukee’s premier arts organizations is taking its 2024 showcase to the beach.

Joy Engine will host four “larger than life” public art experiences and beaches parties in July and August. Known as ArtBlaze on the Beach, the events will take place at Bradford Beach and South Shore Beach in July and August.

“In the city of festivals, our public beaches have been historically underutilized as a site for celebration,” said the organization’s executive director Steph Salvia in a statement announcing the event. “Yet when searching for a site that naturally brings people from all walks of life, including residents of the deep lake, our public beaches seem like an obvious choice.”

The centerpiece of ArtBlaze will be “bioluminescent sea creatures” designed to light up the night. “Measuring over 30 feet, these handmade, fluorescent cephalopod tentacles are original works of art by FuzzPop Workshop,” says the organization. FuzzPop operates Deep Lake Future, an interactive arts and water-themed attraction in Walker’s Point.

“Allegedly, these sentient creatures are the last surviving generation of the Great Cosmopods. As a community with millennia of accumulated knowledge, the creatures wish to spread awareness and (maybe?) encourage dancing by appearing at each beach party. Despite the thick Cosmopod-English language barrier, Joy Engine has been able to confirm these giant beings are huge fans of Wave Chappelle and Gego y Nony, thus the booking of both acts,” says Joy Engine.

The events will take place on July 10, July 31, Aug. 7 and Aug. 21.

Joy Engine has already made its mark in Milwaukee, although often only for temporary events. Starting in 2019, the group previously known as Black Box Fund brought a moon sculpture (and an astronaut) to Catalano Square in the Historic Third Ward. In 2021, it helped land a flock of five-foot-tall plastic birds in Lakeshore State Park. Two of the birds remain perched along N. Water Street near the Milwaukee Public Market. Last summer, Joy Engine cosponsored Nitelight, a site-specific projection and two-night festival on Historic Mitchell Street.

The organization has sponsored several other art exhibits and installations.

Each ArtBlaze event will take place on a Wednesday from 3:30 to 10 p.m. Planned activities include live musical performances, DJ sets, food vendors, free yoga, and make-your-own-s’mores stations. The events will begin with family-friendly programming before progressing to a late-night dance party.

Partner and supporting organizations include Arts @ Large, Artists Working in Education, Milwaukee County Parks, Milwaukee County Parks Foundation, Visit Milwaukee, Molson Coors, Knight Barry Foundation, Gruber Law Offices, Herb Kohl Philanthropies, Bader Philanthropies, The Kubala Washatko Architects, Robertson Ryan Insurance, Catalyst Construction, Astor Street InsuranceFoundation, Berghammer Construction Corporation and the Fund for Lake Michigan.

More information is available on the Joy Engine website.


  • July 10 – Bradford Beach
  • July 31 – South Shore Beach
  • August 7 – South Shore Beach
  • August 21 – Bradford Beach

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