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“A chance to put themselves out there:” Artists and artisans at Summerfest’s 50th hope for big exposure

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MILWAUKEE -- Summerfest pulls in some of the biggest names in music, but it's also a chance for up-and-coming artists to get exposure. To perform at the festival could mean playing in front of a crowd of thousands, or for a few people as they pass by. There are lots of artists at Summerfest looking for their big break.

"I've got to sit here and demonstrate what I do," said Paul Nosa. "So I made this portable set-up."

Performing at the world's largest music festival could mean playing on some of the biggest stages. Or sometimes performing on no stage at all.

Paul Nosa

"It's powered by a solar panel and a bicycle electric generator. I also get other people to ride the bike if you are interested in making some electricity right now," said Nosa.


Paul Nosa

The Tuscon native is on an art tour, crisscrossing the country, stitching commemorative patches based on a few suggestions.

"Basically people imagine a scenario. They describe it in five words or less and I interpret it and put my art into it," said Nosa.

He's one of the many artists and artisans you will find weaving through Summerfest's ground stages -- a place for local bands to get more exposure.

"I think they are wonderful. It gives local talent a chance to put themselves out there," said Nosa.

Summerfest each year offers entertainers an opportunity to book their next job and for Nosa, Summerfest's 50th has offered a chance to stitch together an audience, and collect tips for his work.

"Promoting myself to festivals as the guy who makes the art during the shows," Nosa said.

While Summerfest may be a giant when it comes to festivals, Nosa said his micro set up is very marketable.

"I wondered to myself, I wonder if you can draw using your sewing machine," Nosa said. "Then I realized that the machine was portable and on the spot I could make these custom patches," Nosa said.

Summerfest's 50th was Nosa's third, and you may never see him on the big stage with his sewing machine, but the exposure he gets certainly helps build audience -- certainly with the artist community.