18 Reasons: Creating Community Through Food and Art in San Francisco

18 Reasons is a new gallery/community space in San Francisco's Mission district, located in a storefront kitty-corner from the famous Tartine Bakery and just around the corner from the equally popular Bi-Rite Grocery Store and Creamery.

The purpose of 18 Reasons is to "promote a dialogue between our neighborhood and people who create food and art; provide a space where ideas are exchanged and relationships are forged, and encourage people to communicate this shared passion with each other."

18 Reasons is a non-profit organization run by Joyce Engebretsen who is the Art Programmer, Bi-Rite wine buyer Josh Alder who is the Food Programer, and Bi-Rite owner Sam Mogmannam who is the Executive Director. In addition to art shows, the gallery hosts a weekly event called 18th Hour which features favorite wine and cheese pairings, as well as an ever-changing program of art, food and music.

Anyone who remembers the 17 Reasons sign that used to loom above Thrifty Town on 17th and Mission will wonder about its connection to 18 Reasons. Joyce Engebretsen explains that she considers the 18th Street area to be a special place in San Francisco. The sign, which was removed in 2002, represents a piece of the area’s history and heritage and is an iconic and mysterious touchstone that speaks to the gallery’s mission.

It's easy and instantly rewarding to become a member of 18 Reasons: your $40 membership comes with over $30 in coupons to Bi-Rite Market, Tartine Bakery, Pizzeria Delfina and other 18th Street businesses. But even more rewarding is the sense of community and the opportunity to gather together with other people who share a passion for food and art. Check out the 18 Reasons web site for more information and their Fall schedule. The gallery is open on most weekends.

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.