MODESTO — The Modesto Art Museum is a finalist for a more than $100,000, 18-month grant offered by ArtPlace, a collaboration of several foundations, large banks and the National Endowment for the Arts. Awards will be announced in May.
"It's a big deal not only for the museum, but for Modesto," said Bob Barzan, the museum's director. "For the museum, it shows that ArtPlace a consortium of really big foundations like Rockefeller, James Irvine and Ford has that kind of confidence in the Modesto Art Museum. It's a really big thing for Modesto because it would be $100,000 coming into the community and coming through the arts."
If the museum wins the grant, the money will go to expanding the museum's annual architecture festival, commissioning a piece of public art for downtown and branding downtown as Modesto's design district, Barzan said.
The museum presents exhibits at downtown's new Building Imagination Center, which California State University, Stanislaus, opened in September with a $170,000 grant from ArtPlace. The Building Imagination Center also offers video screenings and classes in video production.
1,200 letters of inquiry
The museum is one of 104 organizations chosen as grant finalists in this cycle from more than 1,200 letters of inquiry nationwide. According to its website, ArtPlace is an "initiative to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. through grants, loans, research, communication and advocacy."
Barzan said he's amazed that ArtPlace is willing to give so much money to a small organization such as the Modesto Art Museum. He said he called the group to make sure it was giving the museum serious consideration and it said it is.
All the projects the museum is planning for the grant would further its "Building a Better Modesto" program, which, according to the museum's website, "explores the place of art, architecture, landscape and urban design in creating a more livable city."
"We're trying to change the image of Modesto that people who live here have," Barzan said. "When they see all these other people are willing to invest money here and they think there's something worth celebrating, maybe they'll do it, too. The museum is here to promote Modesto and the people of Modesto."
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2313. Follow her on Twitter, @MilleganRenner.