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
July 19, 2013

The Building Imagination Center is a visual arts and media hub in downtown Modesto, which provides the community with a visual arts gallery for world class photography, sculpture, paintings, and contemporary 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. 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.


This past month we continued our community outreach program through our weekly video production workshops, with many of our repeat participants coming from outside the Modesto area. The benefits derived from this type of experiential learning are quickly being recognized by the Modesto school district, and it was the focus of a recent article, Valley Teachers use Summer to Plan Hands-on Learning, in our local press, the Modesto Bee.

Recent Wins

Also announced this month was the current effort under way to expand the regional bus transit system by adding new routes to reach our neighboring cities. This will greatly facilitate access to the Center, as well as increase participation in our workshops and our projects. This is an important intermediate step in anticipation of the high speed rail station that is planned to be located a block away from our current location.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the movie American Graffiti, the Modesto Art Museum and the Building Imagination Center are co-hosting ‘Art and the Automobile’, a multi-part exhibition exploring the cultural and artistic responses to the automobile, which has transformed life in the 20th century more significantly than any other single factor. Inspired by the ‘ubiquitous’ presence of the car, the exhibit focuses on several different aspects of cars in society through photography taken of cars between 1960 – 1970, with highlights of specific car details, and a display of license plates from all 50 states.

Our Art and the Automobile exhibit is one part of an annual city-wide celebration of American Graffiti, which includes many car shows, parades, and other public events. As part of this festival, Modesto filmmaking native George Lucas made his first public return to his hometown, Modesto, in some 40 years, serving as grand marshal of the North Modesto Kiwanis American Graffiti Classic Car Parade.

Now that’s a ‘Win’ for all involved, including the Center, Museum, and Community!

As the field of video production moves forward, it is becoming more available to everyone, from trained professionals to amateur enthusiasts. In our own video production workshops we have seen how excited and involved participants become in making their own projects, once they have been introduced to the basic tools. This type of community involvement we believe is a vital component to creative placemaking.


Throughout the past year we have continuously asked ourselves, ‘In what ways can we further include and involve the community in the artistic process?’

Now, we are asking you.

What other types of artistic processes can we explore that can act as catalysts to trigger more positive events or changes within a community, within a state, nationally, or internationally?