May 26—In 2019, the first Street Wise Boulder mural festival transformed building sides, bike trail underpasses and parking garages with large-scale works of art. Creatives climbed ladders, armed themselves with spray paint cans and roller brushes to create a number of pieces that — in addition to adding bold beauty to various exteriors — called attention to humanitarian efforts and ongoing injustices.
Saturday, the organization is hosting an open-air concert at Glen Huntington Bandshell to drum up funds to ensure the future of its third installment set for Sept. 6-12.
“As a small nonprofit, fundraising is a big part of our day-to-day thinking and it’s how we are able to produce free events and pay artists,” said Leah Brenner Clack, founder of Street Wise. “So, that being said, this event is our first ever, live music, in-person fundraiser and we’re so excited to put our own flavor and touch into this event. Like many people in Colorado, we also love live music and love being outdoors in our beautiful city of Boulder.”
Attendees will be treated to sets by award-winning filmmaker DJ Musa Starseed and the high-vibed reggae of Selasee and The Fafa Family — a Boulder-based band that hasn’t performed live since December 2020.
“We are really looking forward to the band playing a gig finally with no masks, which has been quite a challenge since the pandemic,” said award-winning musician Selasee Atiase, originally from Ghana. “Attendees should expect us in full throttle with no reservations.”
Street Wise’s benefit, emceed by local comedian Joshua Emerson, is just one of over 80 events scheduled for the Bandshell this summer.
“When I found out about the city’s Arts in the Park program, it was a natural fit for our goals for this fundraiser — be outdoors, dance to live music and connect with each other in person,” Clack said. “The Arts in the Park program is so amazing and we’re honored to be in the lineup.”
Tickets for the Jam — whose proceeds will keep the festival’s momentum going — start at $10 for students and $25 for other art lovers. Included in the ticket price is a drink ticket that will allow attendees to enjoy a complimentary beverage from businesses in attendance — including Coffee Ban, Rowdy Mermaid and New Belgium.
A VIP ticket goes for $50. Those who are struggling financially, but wish to attend the event can do so through a select number of free tickets, courtesy of the Boulder Library Foundation and PLAY Boulder Foundation.
“I was drawn to Street Wise first when I learned it was behind all the unique murals popping up around the city,” Atiase said. “I’m stoked to perform as an artist. There are so many great artists and creations. I love so many of them, however I have been specifically drawn to the work done by Spray Their Name of Sandra Bland and works by Pharaoh One.”
While last year live shows came to a halt for the seven-piece group, songwriting hasn’t slowed for the talented crew.
“We have an exciting new album coming out by the fall and we have quite a few shows already lined up, including the Evergreen Concert Series on July 14, Little Beach Park in Minturn on July 22 and Bands on the Bricks on Aug. 4,” Atiase said.
Selasee and the Fafa Family will perform at the Bandshell from 5-7 p.m., but prior to the show fans can enjoy an eclectic Caribbean-tinged set by DJ Musa Starseed from 3-5 p.m.
“What I’m most looking forward to are the community connections that are bound to be made through the vibrations of the music,” said Starseed.
Since its inception, Street Wise has always been rooted in “artivism” and previous works have spotlighted issues surrounding race and human rights. Its dedication to selecting a diverse group of artists, many who weave themes of equality for Indigenous individuals, people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community within their extensive work, is what attracts so many to its mission.
“Living in Boulder, I’ve always been accustomed to creativity through crisis,” Starseed said. “Although Boulder is a beautiful place to live, there is a shadow that comes with its sunshine, especially being a Black male here. But I’ve learned that sometimes crisis is the best thing that can happen to an artist to really tune into how creativity can be applied to the present moment and this is exactly how I spent my 2020. Staying positive-minded, honing my creative craft and tuning into how I can continue to influence this community in a constructive way.”
In 2020, Starseed was one of the featured performers at Boulder Arts Outdoors — a socially distanced series, featuring a varied lineup of musicians, dancers, circus artists and more. This year, the series is moving from Gerald Stazio Softball Fields to the Bandshell and will take place every Thursday from July 22-Aug. 26.
While many live events remained on hold in 2020, last year proved to be one of productivity for Starseed.
“I was able to write a couple books about the artist’s craft and its relation to young Black youth and creative spirituality,” Starseed said. “I was also able to build my website and plan for the very projects and workshops I am doing now in 2021 — teaching the art of DJing to youth in the community.”
Like so many, Starseed — also a graffiti artist — remains a fan of a number of Colorado-based visionaries who have decked out the outside walls of the Dairy Arts Center, the now-shuttered Liquor Mart, the main library, the Boulder Chamber, bus stops and numerous other locales.
“I love the work of Detour, Gabriel Sanchez, Jolt, Leo Bumbakini, Mario Jose Olvera, Adri Norris and Jodie Herreria,” Starseed said.
Years ago, Starseed released “Soulz of Azucar,” the first documentary of its kind about the history of hip-hop in Cuba. The flutist, dancer and mentor is once again excited to bring moving storytelling to the screen.
“I am in the process of making a documentary about the new DJ program I have created for youth in Boulder County called Young Professional DJs,” Starseed said. “We are creating a short documentary piece of what we do with the art of DJing and how the principles of DJing can serve to direct a young person’s life in a constructive path filled with new skills, self-expression and the ability to connect others through the power of music. We are fundraising for this project and our summer workshop now and by late July we plan to start editing the documentary. Our final goal is to have a youth center here in the heart of Boulder where youth can come to learn new and interesting skills, like the art of DJ and much more. Because we have been doing this work in the community for so long now, I believe we are the best ones to do it.”
For Clack, providing these Boulder creatives with a chance to perform is a much-welcomed reunion, of sorts, as Atiase and Starseed have been involved with contributing to Street Wise’s soundtrack previously.
“I’ve had the pleasure of having both musicians play at different events with us in the past and I’m so excited to have them back for this event,” Clack said. “Selasee is a neighbor of mine, in addition to being an awesome singer and guitar player in the best reggae band in Boulder. He played our SoBo Arts Fest in Martin Park a couple years ago. Musa Starseed is a well-loved DJ who plays a really fun danceable, eclectic mix of music. His smile is also infectious. Musa was our DJ for the block party for our inaugural mural festival also in 2019.”
Along with enjoying music on Saturday, attendees will be able to tap into their own creativity and take home some one-of-a-kind pieces.
“We have Tinker Art Studio joining us who will facilitate an all-ages, large-scale art project in the art tent that will be divided up for participants to take home at the end of the night,” Clack said. “We have Citrine Ink joining us, who will be doing typewriter poetry and also performing a poetry reading between sets of music. We’ll have a few live art painters, whose work you can bid on as part of the auction. We’ll be unveiling a new mural painted by Tony Ortega and the students at Jarrow Montessori from one of our recent spring youth programs.”
There will also be giveaways and possibly a few more surprises.
“This fundraiser is so important,” Clack said. “All ticket sales and auction proceeds go directly to funding the Street Wise Boulder mural festival, allowing us to pay artists, buy paint and all of the other many costs associated with putting on a large-scale festival.”
A selection of original art, fine art prints and merchandise from previous Street Wise Boulder artists will be available to bid on as part of an online auction. The auction link will be emailed first to Street Wise’s mailing list and then put on social media on Saturday.
“As a small, volunteer-driven organization, we rely on the generosity and support of the community to make the mural festival happen,” Clack said. “Without this support, we would not be able to do it. Street Wise Boulder truly is a community-driven initiative.”
Following its inaugural year, Street Wise has only continued to grow — attracting more artists from outside of the state and establishing itself as one of the premier events of its kind in the country.
Expanding from 13 murals in 2019 to 38 murals in 2020, Street Wise — an event committed to inclusivity and unity — continues to evolve.
“We have received over 230 artist submissions to participate in this year’s festival,” Clack said. “We are blown away at the amazing artists we have to choose from this year — from across Colorado and across the country. Our selection committee is working hard going through all of the applications. We can’t reveal any artists or projects yet, you’ll have to follow along for more info to be released this summer. However, there are so many amazing murals from the last two years that can be discovered. We’ve put together a few smaller mural tour options on our website through Google Maps for those who want a taste of what’s to come.”
In the fall, folks can expect murals inspired by COVID-19 and perhaps tributes to the victims of March’s devastating King Soopers tragedy.
While artists have been eager to get in on the annual festival and have an opportunity to leave their mark on the surfaces of brick and stucco throughout town, building owners have also offered up blank canvases.
“We have a bunch of great walls secured so far this year, across new parts of the city and old,” Clack said. “That being said, we can always make room for a few more if an awesome wall presents itself.”
Other Upcoming Arts in the Park Events
Log on to BoulderArtsInThePark.com for a full listing.
June 4, 6:30 p.m.: Dairy at the Bandshell: Hazel Miller and the Collective; $25
June 5, 6:30 p.m.: Dairy at the Bandshell: Los Chicos Malos, with Elisa Garcia trio and Adolfo Romero; $25
June 6, 6 p.m.: Concertize: String Serenade Sunday, $5-$15
June 8, 11 a.m.: Jeff and Paige; free with registration
June 11, 7 p.m.: Dairy at the Bandshell: Innastate; $15
June 12, 7 p.m.: Dairy at the Bandshell: Brothers of Brass; $15
June 13, 7 p.m.: Ballet in the Park with Boulder Ballet; $15-$25
June 18, 6 p.m., June 19, 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m.: Dairy at the Bandshell: Colorado Brazil Fest; $25-$65
June 22-30, 8 p.m., June 25, 7 p.m.: Local Theater Company presents: Discount Ghost Stories: Songs From the Rockies; several free Monday performances- $25. ($250 for opening night June 24/additional dates in July)
June 26, 6:30 p.m.: Creative Nations presents Fresh: Fresh Air, Fresh Fashion Runway Show; free with registration.
July 2, 7 p.m: Dairy at the Bandshell: Chris Daniels and the Kings; $25
July 3, noon and 7:30 p.m.: Cellists for Change presents Seasons of Blight; free
July 10, 6 p.m and 8 p.m.: Cirque de Minuit — Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance; $15
July 22, 7 p.m.; (every Thursday from July 22-Aug. 26) Boulder Arts Outdoors; Price TBD
July 25, Aug. 15, Sept. 19 10:30 a.m.: eTown presents Nick Forster’s Hippy Bluegrass Church; $5-$10
Aug. 14, 7 p.m. Opera in the Park: Potions and Gypsies; free, VIP seating when you purchase a picnic basket.
*In addition, coordinating with Arts in the Park activities, the City of Boulder is sponsoring Boulder Creek Summer Sundays, a weekly event running now through June 27 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Summer Sundays takes place in the Civic Area and features a variety of handcrafted artisans and Boulder-based businesses for a hyper-local shopping experience. Boulder Creek Fest will take place July 16 — 18.