Inside the Third Ward’s Art Cafe

And it’s definitely worth stopping in to see Nicole Acosta’s portrait project “HOOPS.”

Milwaukee Artist Resource Network has been connecting and supporting artists for over 20 years, but its 5,500-square-foot space is still the new kid on the Historic Third Ward block (191 N. Broadway).

When the idea for a brick and mortar first came up, president and CEO Mal Montoya thought it might prove difficult to lure passersby into the not-for-profit arts space. So his team thought about two things people love: coffee and wine.

In 2021, the MARN Art + Culture Hub was born, with museum-quality galleries, a marketplace fully stocked by local artists and a cafe/bar.

“[The Hub] was built by artists for artists and those who appreciate that work,” Montoya says.


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On display this month is “HOOPS“, a portrait project by Nicole Acosta that examines the cultural significance of hoop earrings.  

“The portraits and film feature individuals who have a deep connection to hoop earrings and for the first time give an honest testimony of why hoop earrings make so many feel empowered, protected and magical,” Acosta said in a news release about the show. 

MARN is hosting an opening reception for “HOOPS on Feb. 4 from 5:30-8 p.m. There will also be a HERE2PLAY: HOOPS event on Feb. 8, featuring live scene readings from the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s play (running March 10-April 2), which is adapted from Acosta’s project. 


Nicole Acosta’s “Hoops” project; Photo courtesy of MARN


Nicole Acosta’s “Hoops” project; Photo courtesy of MARN


Nicole Acosta’s “Hoops” project; Photo courtesy of MARN


Nicole Acosta’s “Hoops” project; Photo courtesy of MARN



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s February issue.

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Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.