This Woman Turned a Foreclosed Funeral Home into an Art Gallery

We went inside the studio with Aliza Laster.

When artists Fatima Laster first toured the site of a foreclosed funeral home on Port Washington Avenue, she was struck by its size. It was big. Too big to function as the live-work space she’d been looking for. But she saw something in its ornamental molding and coffered ceilings. So instead of giving up on the sprawling space, she decided to think bigger herself.

Laster, who grew up nearby, ultimately bought the city-owned building and set about transforming it into 5 Points Art Gallery and Studios.

Now, she lives in one of the venue’s two second-floor apartment units. She works out of one of its nine lower-level studio spaces (alongside Della Wells and several other local creatives). And she curates the exhibits in its main-fl oor gallery.

To date, Laster has organized large-scale group shows, small one-person retrospectives, and everything in between while striving to spotlight work by artists of color and other marginalized artists. “That’s the goal of the gallery,” she says. “I’m trying to push the boundary of what’s seen and expected of us.”

“Inside the Studio” appears in the October 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning October 1, or buy a copy at

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.