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
September 24, 2012

The Building Imagination Center will be a new visual arts hub in downtown Modesto, California. The Center works with the Modesto Art Museum to provide the community with a visual art gallery for world class photography, sculpture, paintings, and many other art mediums. The Center also actively engages with the community through a Resident Filmmaker Program. The Center leverages its video residency program to bring regional documentary video artists into Modesto, to involve the community directly in hands-on video creation, and to provide real world experience for California State University Stanislaus film students. Providing a wide variety of free events, it is the Center’s mission to create 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: What do you have to do really (really) well to achieve success with your initiative?

GOMULA-KRUZIC: My experience has been that change doesn't happen until people can visualize it. Change will happen when people can imagine a better future for themselves and their community, and have a sense for how that future can come about. The whole purpose of the Building Imagination Center is to stimulate people to imagine a better Modesto and provide a path to get there. This is what we need to do really really well.
Modesto is already known as the least livable city in the county and everyone here is well aware of the ranking and why it is so. For our gallery exhibit, we will help people see the physical place of Modesto in a different light by exploring some of the area’s architectural heritage.  Local artists of all ages will exhibit photos, drawings, paintings, and watercolors of Modesto's architecture. We will also have an exhibit of the architectural design of Frank Lloyd Wright associate and local resident Robert Beharka. This exhibit, and the Building Imagination Center itself, will serve as the hub of the fifth annual Modesto International Architecture Festival.

ARTPLACE: How do you expect the community to change as a result?

GOMULA-KRUZIC: It is not enough just to have an exhibit. We want to create concrete changes for the better. Together with the Modesto Art Museum and other community partners, we have asked people to submit paint schemes for a nearby dilapidated Art Deco Style gas station in downtown Modesto. One entry will be selected, and the building will be revived and painted accordingly. We want to show that imagining how a building could be better is actually the first step in making it happen. As part of our first show, we will exhibit all the designs that were submitted by Modesto residents and others along with photos of the transformed building.
Additionally, we will be hosting a PARK(ing) Day event as part of the architecture festival. This is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers, landscape architects, and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.