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The missing piece of the Turlock arts scene
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There really is no excuse for Turlockers sitting at home on Friday nights. Despite what a few Bay Area transplants may think, Turlock has a lot to offer those seeking cultural stimulation.

The reopening of the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock has been a breath of fresh air to the local arts scene. There have been events held at the Carnegie for art lovers of all ages and interests every week since the center opened in September. Also, it really is nice to know there is a place dedicated to the arts in the heart of town.

Even before the reopening of the Carnegie, though, there were a variety of places Turlock arts lovers could go, including California State University, Stanislaus. The university’s theatre department has at least one production in the fall and one in spring, along with hosting special events throughout the year.

In November, “Buried Child” by Sam Shepard will be presented in the university’s Mainstage Theatre. The 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama takes a macabre look at one disillusioned American Midwestern family with a dark secret. This adult-oriented production is followed by performances by Jackson Rayne: Illusionist in December. Rayne will walk through walls and escape underwater submersion for audiences of all ages. In January, the Theatre Department will feature its annual children’s production.

The Cal State Stanislaus Music Department has four events scheduled in November, including jazz ensemble and symphony band performances. The university also has an art gallery that is free and open to the public.

If the offerings at the university aren’t what you’re looking for, then Turlock also has its very own professional venue: the Turlock Community Theatre. The TCT eliminates the need to suffer through Bay Area traffic or drive into the foothills and risk gambling away the gas money to get home.

Jackson Browne and Wynonna will be crooning Turlockers at the TCT in November, followed by The Manhattan Transfer Christmas in December.

There are also biannual theatre and musical productions at both Turlock and Pitman high schools. (They’re usually really good productions … really!)

Turlock has also been blessed with outstanding dance troupes, who usually rent out the community theatre and open their productions to the public.

With everything I just listed, there is no doubt that the arts are alive and well in Turlock. However… I can’t help but think that there is something missing.

I figured out what that something is after reading an article sent to me from my cousin in Livermore. In Livermore, the city has partnered with a family counseling center and the police department to offer a “Path to Picasso” program, which gives at-risk youth the opportunity to work with a local professional artist to create a large piece of art that is displayed publicly.

The program’s most recent project was the creation of four clean energy themed murals that will be rotated among the building lobbies at Sandia National Laboratories.

Sandia was just the latest in the Path to Picasso program’s venues for public display. Students in the program have also decorated Livermore City Hall, the Livermore Police Department, a local theatre plaza and transit depot.

This program not only beautifies Livermore, it also engages at-risk youth in a project that has concrete outcomes and, hopefully, instills a sense of community pride. This is what the arts scene in Turlock is missing — an outreach factor.

I can think of dozens of white or beige walls around Turlock that could use some artist transformation — starting with the Turlock Journal office!

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.