As we’ve mentioned before (a few times, actually), Milwaukee is hurting for all-ages opportunities in the city’s music spaces. Between dated local ordinances and businesses weighing the economic ramifications of opening their venues to patrons under 21 years of age, progress has been frustratingly slow. However, all-ages options are gradually increasing in Milwaukee. This week, the city’s newest all-ages space and art gallery will open on a decidedly posh block of downtown Milwaukee. Located in a semi-secluded section of Milwaukee St. between a night club and a high-end steakhouse, Genesis MKE aims to offer all-ages entertainment and a platform for local creatives in a third-floor site its founders hope will function as a place of creation and disruption.
The gallery, located at 720 N. Milwaukee St., was started last month by proud Milwaukee residents and artists Emily Porter, Stacy Dahl (both MIAD graduates), and Randy Russell Brown (who attended Colombia College in Chicago). The longtime friends set out to transform a room within The Hive Offices into a space they hope will address some of the gaps in the city’s creative community. As the name indicates, the partners aspire to usher in a new beginning for downtown art.
“Ultimately, at the core of our mission, we just want to provide something new and interesting,” Brown says. “What can we do? How can we open doors up and create opportunities for people of various different backgrounds? How can we give platforms to people who don’t have one yet? I think the space came out of a question of what Milwaukee needs.”
Genesis will utilize its approximately 800 square feet of space in a number of ways. There will be exhibitions that highlight a diverse blend of artists, workshops and artist discussions, performances, book releases, pop-up markets, and a number of other things.
“We’re trying to shake it up,” Porter says. “We’re trying to bring a bunch of Milwaukee creatives to the space through different mediums and different means.”
Though the space is versatile, its whitewashed walls will host traditional exhibitions throughout the year. Its opening exhibit will showcase works from Kathiana Rene, Simone Gautschi, and Yessica Jimenez.
“I want to have people be able to play places that aren’t bars,” Dahl says. “I want to create a space that isn’t only conducive to drinking, while also bringing my art background into it to give a voice to people who don’t always have a platform.”
Wednesday, Genesis will host an open poetry slam. On Saturday night, Yum Yum Cult and Fuzzy Logic will showcase their work. Local illustrator Kpolly will give an “artist talk” on June 3. Gallery hours will run from 1-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The space will have a wide range of events based around, as Brown says, “cultivating something new, creating something meaningful, and disrupting things” in a cozy and inclusive space that’s hidden among night clubs, fancy restaurants, and luxury hotels downtown.
“When you step outside these doors, it’s a very different world,” Brown says. “But I kind of like that there’s this secret wooden door, then you go up three flights of stairs and find something completely different.”