It’s been just shy of two months since a group of artists and musicians signed the lease on a space on Milwaukee Street and announced plans to launch a new venue and arts space, Communication. Its goal is to offer an all-ages, sober atmosphere for everything from music to artist residencies to children’s programming. The venue had an open house this past Sunday and will have a soft open event on Friday, May 11, where community members can also chat with the space’s four founders: Tessa Echeverria, Mollie Martin, Jennifer Bastian, and Spencer Bible. The space has booked up most of its programming for the summer, most of which has yet to be announced. (As we’ve noted before, Tone Madison will also be collaborating with the space on some programming, including a show on May 30.)
The space at 2645 Milwaukee Street, formerly a blinds store, combines a storefront where Communication will sell art, a warehouse area that’s being converted into a show room for music, and a small house at the back that will be used as art studios and a green room. While small venues have been picking up steam in Madison lately, Communication aims to tackle a long-standing lack of all-ages spaces in town that feel viable and are able to serve a broader community.
“Something common to all of us is we have felt that we don’t fit very nicely in the establishment of what our niches are supposed to be, or in the commercialization of those products of art or music, and that we’ve fought really hard to have the identity as artists and musicians that we have, and we want to be able to provide that space for people who also don’t feel like they’re fitting into the galleries or the big venues,” says Echeverria, who is a musician and co-founded Williamson Magnetic Recording Company.
Martin, a visual artist and musician who works at resale-fashion store Good Style Shop, will be heading up the retail side of Communication, which will offer artists a way to sell work on a consignment basis. “The role that it plays is that a lot of artists and makers who do pop-ups are only able to sell their wares when there’s an event, and that’s not always consistent,” Martin says. “There are a lot of pop-up events in Madison, but if you want to sustain yourself as an artist, unfortunately you have to sell a lot of things. When we rented the place, I wanted to promote people who didn’t always have access to those events, and just selling in general—this is a place that people can go to buy their things all in one area.”
Echeverria and Martin sat down with us recently to discuss renovating the space, the challenges of keeping art spaces alive in an upscaling city, and the supportive reception Communication has been getting from its neighbors.
Give the conversation a listen here, or subscribe to the Tone Madison podcast on Apple Podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and consider supporting us financially with a one-time or recurring donation.