Former funeral home now home to art

In a space where families and friends in mourning once gathered to pay their final respects, now community members come together to enliven one another with theater and art.

That space is Inspiration Studios, a combination art gallery and theater that founder and owner Erico Ortiz opened in March 2014 as a home for local community theater group Village Playhouse.

When Ortiz’s search for a new space led him to the former funeral home, located at 1500 S. 73rd St. in West Allis, he knew right away he had found the place he was looking for, he said.

After purchasing the 9,000-square-foot building in December 2013, Ortiz spent the next two-and-a-half months pouring his own sweat equity, along with that of more than 100 volunteers, into building renovations.

Today, visitors of the art hub can watch live theater while surrounded by the masterpieces of artists specializing in a variety of art forms, from photography to painting, recycled assemblage art, 3D works and multisensory exhibits.

“I think the creative spirit helps to keep people happy and to keep people alive, and I think it’s good for kids, it’s good for adults, (and) it’s good for communities,” Ortiz said.


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