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
May 4, 2013

The Building Imagination Center is a 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 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, 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.

What has been your best and most rewarding event during the course of your ArtPlace grant?

One of the best events the Center has hosted has been our exhibit Modesto the Next 100 Years. This exhibit was organized by our partner, the Modesto Art Museum, and our city planning office. We literally displayed the city's long range city growth projections and land use maps for Modesto. The city is currently in the process of planning for a new downtown rail station, which will fundamentally change the accessibility and quality of life for the residents. This exhibit gave many people who had not been a part of the public forums a chance to see the scenarios being considered and to discuss them with their peers.

The exhibit was coordinated with a public forum on the redevelopment of downtown, which was hosted by the city. This forum gave city officials an opportunity to get feedback from many of the key constituents of downtown, such as business owners, property owners, community groups, and the public at large. Using digital clickers, attendees were able to vote on a variety of issues and see the results immediately. This forum is being followed up by the new city development committees, as well as a second public forum during the April Art Walk which will include live music, free food, etc.
This event was a unique application of our mission to create a more vibrant downtown by going outside of the art community to find visual infographics that will have a direct impact on the city's future.

What did you learn from this event?

This event once again reinforced our appreciation of the ways outside partnerships can strengthen and add depth to our creative placemaking efforts. The exhibits and forums brought an entirely new audience into the Center, and facilitated many wonderful discussions about the future of the city. Once people had the opportunity to see the planning behind the city's growth, they felt a new sense of ownership towards the city. Their excitement about the city's future was palpable during the forums, with many of the attendants ready to move past the discussion phase and eager to get started making concrete changes. Changes such as the parklets that the Center helped to create across the street from us, changes like the new wall murals that local business owners have started commissioning on their buildings, or communal projects such as the Chalk Art Walk the center is hosting April 27.

Changes that the Center will be right there to help with.