Joy Engine
Press Release

Joy Engine Set to Illuminate Milwaukee with “Nitelight”: The City’s First-ever Immersive Outdoor Arts + Lights Show

The public art nonprofit has selected the Historic Mitchell Street neighborhood as the backdrop for the luminary festival experience

By - Aug 7th, 2023 10:10 am
Nightlight. Image courtesy of Joy Engine.

Nightlight. Image courtesy of Joy Engine.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN (August 07, 2023) — JOY ENGINE, the public art nonprofit behind larger-than-life installations such as “Under One Moon” in Catalano Square, and “Cracking Art,” which brought a flock of bird sculptures to the Milwaukee shoreline, and other curated art events, will return to the cityscape to present Nitelight: the region’s first-ever, outdoor immersive arts & lights festival experience.

The dazzling live spectacle, to be held during the last gasp of summer on the evenings of Sept. 8-9, brings 4D projection mapping technology to Milwaukee’s iconic Historic Mitchell Neighborhood. A multi-story building at 710 W. Historic Mitchell Street — home to Mitchell Street Arts — will serve as the mesmerizing backdrop for the show.

Inside the event, festival attendees will enjoy heart-thumping performances while celebrating the magic that unfolds when art and technology collide.

Nitelight will feature a fashion show, a variety of local vendors, dance performances, and an impressive music lineup. The event is family-friendly and free to the public. After sundown, the event will set the grounds alight with an amazing motion graphics show.

Besides watching the vibrant display, families with children will have plenty of options to indulge in memory-making activities throughout the festival’s run, including a life-size Lite Brite wall and a hands-on multilingual exhibit presented by PNC Bank.

“As the summer festival season winds down, Nitelight invites Milwaukeeans out for one more remarkable celebration to enjoy together,” said Steph Salvia, JOY ENGINE executive director. “We’re thrilled to be hosting the city’s first, large-scale outdoor arts and lights festival to put our local artists in the limelight. This event embodies Milwaukee’s diverse, collaborative spirit and demonstrates our city’s capacity to bring world-class arts and culture to the Midwest, giving attendees a multi-sensory experience they won’t forget.”

Nitelight is JOY ENGINE’s latest artistic venture aimed at igniting the imaginations of Milwaukeeans and leveraging underutilized urban spaces to expand perceptions of community and creative expression through public art. Research shows roughly 70% of Americans believe that “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity” and “improve the image and identity of their community.”

Unlike other similar large-scale lighting events, which draw upon international artists to develop the motion works, JOY ENGINE has chosen five Milwaukee-area artists to shine a light on the region’s artistic talent and bring the light show to life.

The organization also collaborated with students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design Lubar Innovation Center to develop motion graphics programming. The technique uses laser technology to “scan” a building’s façade and create a blank canvas for spectacular, creative design. The art is then projected back onto the building for a one-of-a-kind sensory experience.

The method, which was developed in the early 2000s and is popular across Europe, underlines the critical importance of art in education, as well as STEAM programming and careers, which has rippling economic impact across the region. It is estimated that arts and culture generate more than $250 million annually in Greater Milwaukee and contribute more than $9.6 billion to the Wisconsin economy, overall.

In addition to partnering with local artists and performers to round out the two-night festival, JOY ENGINE hopes to bring a spotlight to the rich diversity and creative class present in the Historic Mitchell Street Neighborhood. The neighborhood — once home to the city’s Polish immigrants through its evolution as a Hispanic and Latino center — has long served as a community hub. It continues to brim with culturally-diverse businesses, dining destinations, and historic architecture.

“At JOY ENGINE, we’re invested in promoting the access, creation, and enjoyment of public art — in all of its forms,” said Doug McDonald, president at JOY ENGINE. “Artists play a critical role in building community vibrancy. By supporting art, we shape an environment where everybody can explore creativity, inspiring new perspectives and human connection.” JOY ENGINE Presents: Nitelight is supported by the Mitchell Street Arts, Historic Mitchell Street BID, PNC Bank, Travel Wisconsin, MKE Film, and more.

To view the full program lineup and more event details, visit:

NOTE: This press release was submitted to Urban Milwaukee and was not written by an Urban Milwaukee writer. While it is believed to be reliable, Urban Milwaukee does not guarantee its accuracy or completeness.

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