Building a Better Modesto

Modesto Art Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Modesto, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 18, 2013

The reception for the Imagination Film Festival at the State Theatre in the Modesto Design District; photo courtesy of Modesto Art Museum

The Imagination Film Festival, co-hosted with the Building Imagination Center, featured videos from student and budding video makers together with those by established moviemakers including James Broughton. All the moviemakers have either lived or live in the Modesto area. At all of our events, we host a reception of between 30 and 60 minutes so participants have an opportunity to socialize. The reception is free and food is always served.

The Modesto Art Museum has also secured the world premiere of Modern Art Kimono, an exhibit of Taisho era kimono of traditional form but with fabric prints that draw from European modern art movements including Impressionism, Arts and Crafts, Vienna Secession, Cubism, Futurism, and Art Deco. This is the first exhibit of its kind anywhere and will open on March 19, 2014.

Recent Wins
The biggest win has been the selection by the state of a one square block site for the new regional courthouse just one block outside the design district. This is the largest construction project in the county’s history at about $250,000,000. Today the site is mostly abandoned buildings and empty lots in a part of the downtown that could use a leg-up. The courthouse will significantly increase vibrancy for many blocks around it, not only with people coming and going to use the building, but with new businesses that will cater to them including restaurants and shops. In part, the site was chosen because of its proximity to possible sites for the new high-speed regional rail station. This project is one of the best things to happen in downtown Modesto in many decades.

Research by the Wallace Foundation has discovered that one of the primary reasons people go to art events is to socialize with other people. We’ve taken this information to heart and structure opportunities for people to mingle before our events and at the intermission. This has worked out great and a fairly large percent of the audience comes early enough to take advantage of the opportunity. What I’ve discovered though, is that the event itself provokes people so that they want to talk about their experience afterwards. I am now looking at ways to satisfy this need that also get people to experience more of the design district at the same time. The easiest solution would be to have the reception after the event in the theatre, but that doesn’t get people to other parts of the district. Better would be to have the reception at a nearby café, but I think we could be more creative. We will be experimenting with possibilities in the coming months.