GARY | The Miller Beach neighborhood is having a giant art party this weekend, and everyone's invited.
Two years ago, the Miller Beach Arts & Creative District and the East Chicago artist Ish Muhammad staged Lake Effekt, where graffiti artists brightened the neighborhood with bright murals.
Lake Effekt comes back on Saturday. Artists from across the Midwest and New York City will create public art along Lake Street between Miller Avenue and Fourth Avenue from noon to 8 p.m. during a huge block party.
Expect live music, hip hop dance and spoken word performances. 18th Street Brewery will have a beer tent, and food vendors will be on hand. Local artists and craftspeople will sell their work.
Last time, more than 600 people showed up, and this year's event is expected to be even bigger, according to Meg Roman, Miller Beach Arts & Creative District executive director.
"Several businesses have signed up to let their walls be used as canvasses," she said. "The public art draws attention and attracts people. We want to show we have great things happening in Miller and Gary. Miller is a hidden gem with a great beach and an amazing park that was recently renovated. We'll do anything we can to create some vibrancy."
Chicago-based graffiti artist Mario "Zore" Gonzalez Jr. and ZorZorZor already painted a mural on the former Ming Ling restaurant to kick off this year's Lake Effekt.
Such pieces bring the art to the public, Roman said.
"It's accessible," she said. "Not everyone is comfortable walking into a gallery."
About 17-20 pieces will be painted live Saturday, Muhammad said. In the spirit of keeping it fresh, many of the old pieces will be painted over, but the neighborhood will keep Matthew Hoffman's "You Are Beautiful" sign outside 18th Street Brewing and pieces by Hebru Brantley, whose reputation as a graffiti artist has soared internationally.