Mother-daughter duo opens colorful shop on Monroe Street

Artsy Fartsy settles into the near-westside community with consciously curated art, DIY classes and big love for social acceptance and giving back.

When a retired teacher and a social worker/artist team up to open an arts and home gift shop, it comes together with bright colors, consciously sourced products and a proud statement of community acceptance.

When Jeanette Burda retired from teaching in June 2022, she didn’t make it more than a week before deciding she had to find a way to fill the endless time on her hands. Her eye had been on an empty storefront on Monroe Street for a few months as she drove to and from home just up the street.

Jeanette and daughter Alisson Burda had spent about 15 years selling Alisson Burda’s artwork at Art Fair on the Square and all around the midwest at arts and crafts shows in Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

“We always talked about having a store,” says Jeanette Burda. “But it was always important to have the right location.”

Artsy Fartsy opened at 1717 Monroe St. on Aug. 20 this past summer.

Alisson Burda is a social worker by day, but expresses herself artistically in her off hours through punchy, colorful and sometimes tongue-in-cheek paintings, collages and more. Her canvases and greeting cards are displayed for sale around the store, and she helps out in retail when she can, but Jeanette Burda runs the day-to-day operation. Jeanette Burda’s daughter, Jessica, handles the shop’s IT and website design work, so Artsy Fartsy is truly a family business.

Among the vibrant collection of homewares, art, stationary, body products and jewelry that the store offers, products are curated from as far as South America and New Zealand. Artsy Fartsy also features local artists whenever possible and tries to focus on sourcing from women-owned businesses that are environmentally and socially conscious.

Below the vivid turquoise trim, one of the first visuals shoppers see is a display of colorful posters in the front window. Each one says something slightly different in bold, graphic lettering: “Don’t Fail Our Children. Fund Our Schools!”; “Protect Kids Not Guns”; and “Build a Longer Table. Not a Longer Wall.” But they all make a unified statement of acceptance.

Jeanette Burda says, “In our professional jobs before, we weren’t always able to say those things.” The Burdas say it’s important to them that they use the store’s platform to share what they believe in and give back to their professional roots, like providing a 10% discount to people who work in education and mental health fields.

To further engage the community, Artsy Fartsy hosts art class pop-ups with the local mobile DIY business Hammer & Stain. Artsy Fartsy serves wine and treats and offers in-store discounts while guests paint Halloween gremlins or make colorful holiday ornaments. In the future, they also plan to host kids classes and collaborate with other Monroe Street businesses.

The Burdas are open to using the space for any sort of event that fits. The store’s unique interior comes from years of shapeshifting. Before Artsy Fartsy moved in, the location housed Rupert Cornelius — a women’s clothing boutique — for eight years.

At one point, it was a piano gallery: “They would bring the pianos in through the basement and up through [a] hole [in the brick wall],” says Jeanette. “Pianos would turn in the window.” It was also a health food store in the ’70s, and likely just a single-family residence at one point.

Now it’s filled with vintage furniture, art and colorful goods among the visible relics of each former use. The bright red desk and credenza came from Jeanette Burda’s classroom, and chairs and tables were purchased from vintage collectors and handed down from friends.

“We wanted to create a place that was fun and happy and [had] things that we would buy,” Jeanette says. “When you look around the store, you’re sort of looking around inside our brains.”

Artsy Fartsy, 1717 Monroe St.,, Instagram: @artsyfartsymadison

Emma Waldinger is associate editor at Madison Magazine.

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