Building Imagination in California’s Central Valley

California State University, Stanislaus College of the Arts

Funding Received: 2012
Turlock, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 9, 2012

The Building Imagination Center is a new visual arts and media hub in downtown Modesto. Working with the Modesto Art Museum, the Center provides the community with a visual arts gallery for world class photography, sculpture, paintings, and various other art mediums, such as video animations and interactive content.

Through its Resident Filmmaker Program, the Center brings regional documentary video artists to Modesto to actively engage the community with hands-on video creation, and to provide real world experience for California State University Stanislaus film students. It is the Center’s mission to create an environment where artists can work, thrive, and feel supported by the community, and then to catalyze this growth and leverage it to benefit the local community by creating a vibrant activation of the downtown art scene.

ArtPlace spoke with Jessica Gomula-Kruzic, Director for the Building Imagination Center, about the goals of the Center and the downtown art scene in Modesto, California.

ARTPLACE: Is there a new challenge that engaging in creative placemaking presents for you, your organization, and the artists who work with you? Are new skills required?

GOMULA-KRUZIC: Modesto has a wealth of artistic outlets and events. Creative placemaking - creating cities, towns, and villages where people want to come to live, to work, to play and to learn - is a matter of bringing all of these creative outlets and opportunities into one focused location, and then, by harnessing all of this creative energy in one location, to create a common vision for the community. This vision adds value to the community through local revitalization projects, which address the community’s needs and highlights its history, values, and culture.

Creative placemaking involves a great deal of coordination, planning, and vision. In the past few months I have been involved in all aspects of opening and running a small business, including selecting a location, obtaining licenses and building permits, purchasing equipment and furniture, hiring employees, and even painting the studio walls.

Fortunately, I have not been alone in obtaining this goal. All of the people I have been working with - people in the community, people from my university, artists, other local organizations, public officials, and our neighbors, the businesses surrounding our location, have all been extremely supportive, even eager, to lend a hand to help the Building Imagination Center succeed.

Drawing upon the talents within the local community is essential. Without the community and artistic connections of the Modesto Art Museum, the organizational experience and structures of the university, and the talents and expertise of local artists and filmmakers, the Center would not be able to open its doors and provide meaningful interactions with the community. And bringing other organizations into the Center, such as the Modesto International Architecture Festival, will help make this Center a true community asset.

While collaboration helps to get the Center started, inspiration is what gives it the momentum to keep the community engaged; engaged to see what they haven’t seen before, and inspired to be challenged with new ways of looking and thinking about its role.

This is what the Center’s Resident Filmmaker Program is all about. In this program, resident filmmakers work with university video students to create short form documentaries about and with the community. Our current filmmaker, Christian Hali, is developing a film that addresses the valley’s homeless community. Our October filmmaker will be working with a local group to investigate how the arts help people in need. Our November filmmaker will be telling the stories of farmers and migrant workers here in the valley.

And so it will continue. The Center will be a source of inspiration and dialog with and about the community which supports it.

And I am glad to be a part of this movement.