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The arts for all and all for the arts

Well, hello, Gallo Center for the Arts. So nice to see you. We've been expecting you.

The much-heralded opening of the Gallo Center is here, and I, for one, couldn't be happier.

A dedicated arts center in Modesto means the community is taking its arts seriously. And, as we all know, communities that take their arts seriously are some of the best and most vibrant in the country. For reference, please see New York, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Austin. Not that we're New York, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans or Austin, or even anywhere close. But it's nice to have something to which to aspire.

Still, now that the heavy lifting of building the center is done, the real heavy lifting begins. That is, namely, convincing the public to come inside and enjoy the shows.

True, there's already been an outpouring of support. Without the community, the center still would be a dream instead of a brick-and-mortar reality at 10th and I streets.

But the continued success of the center now falls largely on us.

That's right, now it's our turn. It's up to us to buy tickets, show up and attend the various shows and community events hosted by the center. It's up to us to support the programming and embrace the center as the new heart of the area's arts community. It's up to us to make this center really sing. OK, that last part is up to the singers, but you get my point.

So, I'm ready. How about you? Do you have your ticket?

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Check out the West Coast première of "Empty Streets," from Hawaiian filmmaker Paul Booth, at 7 p.m. Monday at the Galaxy 12 Theatres in Riverbank. Shot earlier this year in Stanislaus County with a cast that included area actors, the film explores the post-traumatic-stress problems veterans have returning from the Iraq war. It will screen as part of the Northern California Film Festival. Learn more at emptystreetsmovie. blogspot.com. ...

Catch "China Blue," a documentary on Chinese sweat-shop labor, as part of the Modesto Junior College Civic Engagement Project's Film & Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Thursday in Forum 110 on the east campus. The movie is free and open to the public, and a discussion will follow. ...

Enjoy "An Evening in Portugal" with the fado sounds of Latin Grammy nominee Ramana Vieira and her ensemble tonight at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call 388-1090. ...

And finally, watch bands battle it out for fun and profit as Fig.Mutant hosts a showdown at 8 p.m. Sunday at Banana Joe's. Battling will be Jupiter is Useless, Jay Smith, Toxic Sunset and more. The winner gets studio time and a $100 credit. Cover is $5. Visit www.myspace.com/figmutant.

Bee entertainment writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284. Read her blog SceneIt at thehive.modbee.com/sceneit.

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