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Professor to Open Visual Arts Center in Modesto
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June 12, 2012
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Visual arts exhibits will be part of the new Building Imagination Gallery and Cinema, opening this fall in Modesto. (Photo by Jessica Gomula-Kruzic)A CSU Stanislaus arts professor is spearheading a new visual arts exhibition center in Modesto thanks to a grant from ArtPlace, a national organization formed to support “creative placemaking” projects across the country.

The Building Imagination Gallery and Cinema (BIG Cinema), under the direction of Professor Jessica Gomula-Kruzic, is slated for a vacant storefront at 10th and I streets in downtown Modesto, near the Gallo Center for the Arts. The site will undergo extensive renovations over the summer, while Gomula-Kruzic recruits artists and technicians from the CSU Stanislaus campus and the surrounding community in advance of a fall opening.

Gomula-Kruzic said the center’s goal is to create a new video arts presence in the Central Valley, including original documentary films by, for and about the local community, large-scale indoor and outdoor video screenings, and video training opportunities. She said the center is a concrete extension of a community art awareness project she’s been developing for three years at her website, BuildingImagination.com.

The center will provide a link between the CSU Stanislaus College of the Arts, the Modesto Art Museum, Modesto’s downtown cultural district and galleries, and the Gallo Center for the Arts. Resident artists will join with CSU Stanislaus student cinematographers to create original documentaries, and community members will be included throughout the production process in addition to attending free public videography workshops.

Many of the resident artists will be CSU Stanislaus alumni, while others will be established regional artists, helping students build connections for their professional careers.

“I am hoping this project will create an empowering cycle,” Gomula-Kruzic said, “with video artists bringing publicity to community groups and an opportunity for those community members to learn marketable videography skills, an understanding of contemporary art, and an awareness of other community groups.”

It’s not Gomula-Kruzic’s first foray into community art partnerships — her “Meet Your Neighborhood” public art project included the installation of 125 larger-than-life portraits in 35 storefronts throughout downtown Modesto, while the Wishes and Prayers Art Garden featured oversized fabric flowers made from recycled clothing, with personal wishes or prayers written in the center.

“I have been making interactive art for more than a decade, whether in the form of an online game or a participatory public work,” Gomula-Kruzic said. “This type of experience mirrors our increasingly interactive experiences in the everyday world, with things like self-checkout kiosks and live chats during television shows becoming more prevalent.”

ArtPlace is a new collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks and eight federal agencies. It is committed to accelerating creative “placemaking” across the United States and has raised nearly $50 million to transform communities with strategic investments in the arts.

ArtPlace received nearly 2,200 inquiries from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million in grant funding available in this cycle, and only 47 projects were selected to receive funding.

“These projects all exemplify the best in creative placemaking,” said ArtPlace director Carol Coletta. “They demonstrate a deep understanding of how smart investments in art, design and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people.”

MEDIA CONTACT:
James Leonard
(209) 667-3884
jleonard1@csustan.edu

 
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