Arts, Culture and Community.
I am going to take a different approach to this week’s blog. I want to share with everyone a great experience I had this past Friday. I spent a day being exposed to the arts and cultural institutions of Stanislaus County and the City of Modesto, California. To the untrained reader, this might sound like an oxymoron, yet it most certainly is not.
When we decided to make the move from Phoenix to the Central Valley of California, we heard a lot of negatives about the community. Like most areas, there are certainly some real issues. However, little was mentioned about the many positive attributes possessed by this community. I thought I would use this week’s blog to share a little of what I learned.
Modesto was the one of the birthplaces of Rock-a-Billy. It certainly is where “cruising” was made popular, a fact highlighted in American Graffiti, written and directed by Modesto’s own George Lucas. In fact, he wrote Star Wars while attending Downey High School. Yet, there is so much more to this community.
We started the day with a tour of the Gallo Center for the Arts. A facility that opened in 2007, its primary mission was to be the permanent home to the Modesto Symphony, The Central West Ballet and the YES Company (youth entertainment stage company). It has become the pillar of a vibrant arts community. With two theaters, one of 1248 seats and another of 444, it brings in top talent. This year I have seen such diverse acts as Izachk Perlman and Colbie Caillat.
We then visited the Central California Arts Association gallery, to view the exhibit done by artists who were all part of a cancer art therapy program. It was an amazingly powerful exhibit and an incredible program offered to people facing challenges that I hope to never know.
Our day included a visit to a small professional theater where we had an impassioned talk from its director as to the value of the arts. We went to visit the State Theater, an art-deco theater built in 1934. Today it is run by a non-profit organization committed to the support of independent film. We were then sent on a guided tour of the many architecturally significant buildings, including some great examples of Modernism. Our walk was capped by display of a portion act two of the ballet Giselle, in a quaint downtown park. We finished the day with a tour of a history museum and an education on all the various events that are hosted by this community.
I left the day proud of my new town and energized to take advantage of all art and culture so close to home. The next morning, my wife and I did a 5-mile walking tour of the historic homes of the community.
So, use this as the impetuous to go explore your community, I am sure you will find many hidden treasures.
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Thanks for reading.