A new art gallery and studio set to open downtown is a project involving a lot of partnerships: between the university and the community, between public and private agencies, and between students and faculty. Even the restrooms are shared with a new restaurant next door.
The “Art Space on Main,” as it’s been named, is set to open in early September. The building will be part gallery, part laboratory.
It follows on the success of the Building Imagination Center, a joint effort between the university and the Modesto Art Museum that operated under a grant in downtown Modesto.
But even before the Building Imagination Center opened in 2012, university officials had been looking for space in downtown Turlock, said Roxanne Robbin, chairwoman of the California State University, Stanislaus, art department.
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“Our (department of fine arts) program has grown so much,” she said. The university is required to have working areas for each student, and it ran out of space on the campus across town at Geer Road and Monte Vista avenues.
The new space also is more visible to Turlock and other Valley residents who find themselves downtown. The university has a gallery on campus, but it can be difficult to find, and people never know whether they need to pay for parking, Robbin said.
At the Art Space, students will get to work on projects. Community members can take part in workshops on everything from watercolor painting to video production. And students can get practical experience running a gallery.
Robbin said she is hoping to expand the services available there even more. “It would be great if people in the community could come in to get help with a logo,” she said as one example.
The building itself is an art project of sorts, with workers removing layers of improvements over the decades to bring back the original charm and elegance of the structure. Previously, the building was best known to Turlock residents as the longtime home of the JC Penney department store before it moved to Fulkerth Road.
Workers pulled up plenty of carpet and tile, said Eric Gonsalves, vice president of Brownstone Equities, the building’s property manager. Underneath, they found hardwood floors that date back 102 years. The store had a mezzanine in the back; the flooring and supporting structure for that were dismantled and some of that wood was used to make doors for the building and tables for Memo’s Cucina & Tequila Bar, which recently opened next door.
“It’s a lot of recycling, which is exciting,” Robbin said.
All told, Gonsalves said, the property owner contributed about $300,000 in remodeling work. The university, using a combination of public and private funds, has leased the space for three years. Hopefully, Robbin said, the gallery will stay open long after that.