Hello my loyal and discouraged minions. I’m still here. I’ve just been having a slight bit of writer’s block, which is humorous as this mission is all about self-expression. I don’t know how actual writers do it, at least the prolific ones, steadfastly typing away each day. I wonder if they just find themselves writing a bunch of crap or the same line over and over again like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. So, as I said, the mission deals with both self-expression and the entertainment events available to us locally. Me, I usually entertain myself it the privacy of my own home – by reading books! What did you guys think I meant? Perverts. But what if my soul desires more interactive and public forms of expression? What then, minions? I guess I’ll have to look at the entertainment and activities Modesto has to offer.
Only some of them are X-rated
Well, my research started dismally. I learned that many places in the area (Livingston, Delhi, Ripon, and Turlock) have canceled their Fourth of July fireworks shows and the Sierra Hope Ride canceled their annual event. Funds are no longer available for these big community events and charity events get bogged down in red tape. I was feeling typically crabby about it all. Then I clicked on the e-artnews calendar and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of stuff going on in this area. It’s not perfect, you may need to travel to Merced, Sonora, Columbia, or Sacramento, but the Gallo Center has really increased the number of local events. This is good news because according to D. Garth Taylor, “There is a significant correlation between the amount of amateur, informal arts activity and neighborhood stability and/or improvement…Arts create shared experience, they encourage intergenerational activity and make public spaces enjoyable.” He says that the arts magnetize the community by making public spaces fun and appealing places to gather, creating shared experiences, and by encouraging different generations to interact freely and willingly with each other. Taylor suggests involvement in murals, a healing garden or sculpture park, street banners, community radio, recording of rap and spoken word events, festivals, Bomba classes, and open microphone coffeehouses as ways to mobilize the community.
I had a chance to walk around the 3rd Thursday Art Walk last night and it was pretty interesting (though I was discouraged by the turnout). There was quite a variety of media on display; photography, sculpture, painting, decorative arts. I picked up a class schedule from the Chartreuse Muse and was excited to see that they offer figure drawing from a nude model every Tuesday night from 7 pm to 10 pm for only $10! Also, my (recently ex-) stepmother was really involved in Modesto and Merced theater so I’ve seen many plays at the Gallo, Playhouse Merced and The Black Box Theater. They’re a lot of fun and the people involved do it because they truly love it. One of my favorite things I’ve seen was when Elizabeth LaPrelle came to the Gallo with her Crooked Road group:
As far as what I, Sad Sack, could do to infuse more art into the community – I like some of Taylor’s suggestions. I would work with teachers at all grade levels to get them involved in painting murals around town. The murals can be designed and executed by the kids. I would talk to coffee houses like Deva and the Queen Bean (are they still open?) about hosting spoken word events and open mics. We can encourage kids to start their own radio shows and podcasts using blogtalkradio.com and talk to local stations like http://valleymedia.org/ about replaying them on the radio (I did that for a few months last year and all eight of our listeners appreciated it). I think these things would really generate some excitement in the community.
Five years down the line, there will be murals everywhere. The downtown area particularly will be covered with bright, happy colors that the local kids painted dealing with all sorts of subject matter from local themes of history and agriculture to personal and cultural themes. There will be more new independent coffee houses throughout the city that host open mic and spoken word nights and people will gather, get hopped up on caffeine, and pour their hearts out. Kids will gain confidence and learn to speak their minds on their own radio shows and they’ll help local bands out by playing their music on the air. It’ll be good, I promise.
Scarlet and gold, dude.