I was introduced to Todd Brown, founder of The Red Poppy Art House located in the Mission District of San Francisco, by Sherwood Chen, with A.C.T.A. (Alliance for California Traditional Arts). I was very taken with The Red Poppy space, the couches and window seats, a vase of flowers on the wicker table, the energetic and poetic paintings by Todd Brown that race across the room walls. There was something very nice about the space, and I was in need of something nice. It had been a long summer.
When Todd mentioned the N.I.C.E. project, I was intrigued by the collective nature of the group, and its mission of community engagement written in its name, Neighborhood Initiative for Community Engagement. The goal was to create a project for the monthly walking art tour of the Mission, known as M.A.P.P., started six years ago. Each month different artists, musicians, performers, and community artists engage the larger Mission neighborhood with gallery exhibitions, street performance, and art shared in a range of mediums.
August M.A.P.P., the N.I.C.E. group decided to transform a garage space into Rosie Cheeks Gallery, with its focus on sustainability. Gathered together that chilly evening were artists, musicians, poets, and filmmakers, creating a blend of sensory experiences. Had this event happened in a cultural space, it would have taken months to plan and organize.
What was so nice about the experience was watching a group come together to create an evening of magical transformation, an intersection between art and community, a chance to make things nice for an evening.