Cinco de Mayo Has Bay View Crawling for Salsa

Once the glass doors of the Sugar Maple Bar open on the evening of Cinco de Mayo, the hustle of the streets is lost within a fiesta of music, margaritas, and a variety of art that explodes color onto canvas.

“I am bound to and love paint as a form of medium.  I love the color that can be created and the shapes that our formed from my hand.  I draw inspiration from things I see everyday.”

A short blonde woman wearing a blue flower pinned to her shirt sits against the wall.  Not focusing on the salsa lessons taking place a few feet from her, she scribbles on a few note cards.  Dena Nord, artist/designer, is still putting her exhibit together after the bar has been filled with bodies.

“I forgot to make the tags for my paintings!  Although, I don’t like to put titles on my pieces because I love to hear what people see in my paintings first.”

Like many of the other artists who are standing by their work wearing blue flowers, Nord has been involved with art in some way since she was in elementary school.  She says she is a graphic designer by day, and does art shows by night.

The First Annual Salsa Crawl is supported by three different businesses, each business constructing their own events within the Salsa Crawl at a bar on the block of the Sugar Maple.  Fiesta goers can walk to all three bars and taste each location’s salsa, voting for the best tasting salsa with ballot cards or online at

ART Milwaukee, an arts advocacy group and experimental marketing organization dedicated to enriching, empowering and inspiring the Milwaukee community through art.

With the appropriate bottle of Corona in hand, ART Jamboree organizer Jeremy Fojut looks satisfied.

“I want people to see that Bay View is a destination.  Downtown Milwaukee is not the only place to go when you wanna go out Saturday night.  Bay View is enriched with talent and culture and I want to show the masses that through forms of art.”

Fojut says although he is not an artist, he is an art enthusiast.  Through the ART Jamborees, Fojust is able to show what he thinks Bay View is hiding:  the artists.

Each ART Jamboree is held at a different location, whether it is a local establishment or a park, Fojut is determined to enrich his community.

Activities offered by ART Milwaukee at the Sugar Maple were:

  • Sugar skull creation
  • Open canvas painting
  • Live dance and music
  • Salsa and Cubia lessons
  • ART Milwaukee piñata

People walked around the outskirts of the Sugar Maple to observe the colorful variety of art exhibits.  Blue flowers seemed to be a scarcity compared to the crowd that flooded the space within the bar.

In the center of the handout of salty drinks and framed portraits, there was a two-man band playing Mexican music to tie the night together.  As the music comes to an end, a bald man takes the stage and constructs the dancing to a step counting rhythm of salsa dancing lessons.

One artist stands away from the dancing crowd, next to a television, a stool, and a pair of headphones.

“Interactive art is my favorite because it allows the people to become completely involved in the art.”

Laura Macias Barrera stands calm and still with her hands together in front of her body.  She speaks with a Mexican accent, but with a sound of passion in her voice.

“This film is the story of a man who moves a small river from one side of a field to another.  It shows strength and determination.  The detail will pull the viewer into the story.”

The headphones delete the rest of the noise from the fiesta that is happening around the exhibit.  One man sat down in front of the screen and places the headphones over his ears.

After only a view minutes of viewing, the concentration and facial expressions meant that Barrera’s piece accomplished the goal.

Other businesses who supported the Salsa Crawl were:

  • Newaukee– a social group for young professionals that love the city of Milwaukee and the people in it.  Newaukee’s goal is to showcase all unique destinations Brew city has to offer by hosting social events.
  • Sosh– an online media and promotions agency with “its finger on the pulse of the social scene”.
  •– “Making new media great media.  Moving Milwaukee forward.”
  • Tweet Up Girls– social group who hosts social events.

For upcoming ART Jamborees or more information on ART Milwaukee, go to  For more information on artist Dena Nord, visit her website at, or email her at  For more information on artist Laura Macias Barrera, visit, or email her at