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
December 16, 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: What has been the most challenging issue you’ve faced to date?

GOMULA-KRUZIC: The most challenging aspect that I have had has been reconciling the goals and aspirations of the ArtPlace grant with the administrative structure and protocols of the university system. Most of my previous experience has been in creating video art and collaborating with other performance artists; however, in administering the ArtPlace grant, my responsibilities now include activities similar to those of a small business owner, such as tracking multiple accounts, reconciling receipts, hiring and training personnel, ordering equipment, setting up utilities, creating a business plan, and organizing, hosting, and marketing art events. I had not anticipated so many layers of procedures and processes. Fortunately, I have strong university support and many people helping me to meet these responsibilities. In general, universities develop structures that are intended to last for decades, and so creating a self-support auxiliary unit in just three months is not ‘business as usual’.

ARTPLACE: How have you dealt with it?

GOMULA-KRUZIC: By developing strong allies within the University. My department Chair, Roxanne Robbin, College Dean, Jim Tuedio, and Post-grant Award Specialist, Trish Hendrix, have graciously answered my questions and guided me to the proper departments and individuals who could further assist me. In particular, the employees in the Finance department have helped me to tackle the administrative procedures involved in tracking and distributing monetary funds.

I’ve also received a great deal of guidance and support from our partner organization, the Modesto Art Museum. The Director, Bob Barzan, has been very helpful in our community outreach efforts. He has advised us on planning and preparing for events, and made sure that we are planning far enough in advance to accommodate any last minute issues. He has been the frontrunner on several public events including workshops, tours, and poetry events. His help has been truly indispensable.

It is this type of strong support - from the University, its departments, and employees, and from our partner the Modesto Art Museum - that will contribute to and promote the long term success of the Building Imagination Center.