The places that feel like home, continued.

Stressful moments always cause me to pause and reflect, and my late-night breakdown was no exception. Looking back to my inspirations, it’s no wonder that I carried memories from Koo’s with me as Altered Esthetics got up and running. The exhibitions were important, but equally so the community space that was created. Little touches that made the rooms more homey, like couches in the gallery space, a fridge full of snacks, tissues, popcorn and a microwave behind the counter—we tried to keep the space welcoming.


Corey, Amanda, Jamie, Steve

Some of my favorite Altered Esthetics memories have nothing to do with the events or exhibits themselves. Rather, they are the conversations with friends and artists, the planning sessions, the late-night talks while cuddled up on the couch with friends. Good art is even better when paired with friends, music, and a community connection. Koo’s Cafe closed its Santa Ana location in the early 2000s, later to reopen as Koo’s Art Center, its own fully fledged nonprofit in the active Long Beach Arts District. I’ll always remember their first location and how important it was for our little group of friends.


This post is adapted from It’s Never Going To Work: A Tale of Art and Nonprofits in the Minneapolis Community. Book includes illustrations by Athena Currier©2019 Jamie Schumacher.

It’s Never Going To Work is a light-hearted, illustrated book that offers real-life insights on founding a community space and nonprofit. It provides tools, tips, resources, and camaraderie to community organizers and anybody attempting something new.