Film Forum

When art and strangers come together

The upcoming #DowntownVisions exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum features crowd-sourced works from artists of all kinds, including "Gavin's Shrinking City," a diorama submitted by a 6-year-old boy.

The upcoming #DowntownVisions exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum features crowd-sourced works from artists of all kinds, including “Gavin’s Shrinking City,” a diorama submitted by a 6-year-old boy.

Fresno Filmworks and the Fresno Art Museum have a lot in common this September.

The museum will debut its first-ever “crowd-sourced” exhibit, #DowntownVisions, on Sept. 27. The exhibit’s goal of bringing strangers together through art for meaningful conversation runs parallel to the theme of the Austrian drama Museum Hours, our monthly screening at the historic Tower Theatre on Sept. 13.

Filmworks is happy to welcome the Fresno Art Museum as a screening sponsor for Museum Hours. The museum’s executive director, Linda Cano, recently gave us a preview of the new #DowntownVisions display.

Question: What does it mean when you say this exhibit is “crowd-sourced”?
Answer:
“It’s all skill levels, all ages, people that have never shown in a museum, people that aren’t artists that just wanted to be a part of it. If people have videos, they can upload them onto YouTube, send us the URL, and then the videos will be uploaded into the gallery. They’ll be on a loop [on a screen accompanying the physical artworks]. So, it’s totally crowd-sourced. Then we have people who have submitted 3-dimensional works and 2-dimensional works already, and those are here.

“We’ve got one piece that is by a 6-year-old. He submitted a work made out of Shrinky Dinks, which I had never heard of before. But it’s plastic that you can draw on with marker pens and colors, and then you put it in the oven and it shrinks. He has drawn and cut out all the big, large buildings in downtown and made sort of a diorama. It’s unbelievable!”

Q: Where did the idea for #DowntownVisions come from?
A:
“It came from an exhibition we already had on the schedule, which is called C. Normart: 50 Years of Downtown. Local artist “Corky” Normart has done watercolors and paintings of downtown for about 62 years. Some are abstract, some are representational. Some of the buildings don’t even exist anymore. We were doing a retrospective for him and we started thinking about how the works were all so different. And then we started thinking that everybody has a vision of downtown Fresno. They see it differently, or maybe they see how they want it to look in the future. That’s how this whole #DowntownVisions exhibit came to be.”

The museum's executive director, Linda Cano, says that an exhibit of works by local artist "Corky" Normart inspired the crowd-sourced #DowntownVisions display.

The museum’s executive director, Linda Cano, says that an exhibit of works by local artist “Corky” Normart inspired the crowd-sourced #DowntownVisions display.


Q: Could you share a story about an experience you’ve had in downtown Fresno?
A:
I grew up here in the Central Valley. When I was a little girl, I would come downtown with my grandmother when the mall was thriving, when it was first built. She used to come down to a dress store named Zuckor’s. We would go spend the day shopping and wandering down the mall and having lunch, and it’s just such a wonderful experience to remember the mall being as it was.

“But things change. Times change. And people need to adapt, and certainly architecture and landscapes and cityscapes need to grow and adapt to the people so that they’re still useful.”

Q: Our upcoming film is about two strangers connecting very personally to each other through the art found in a museum. We’ve been interested to see how the filmmaker depicts that. We are also curious to know how you hope people will respond to your exhibit?
A:
“I want people to take another look at the Fresno Art Museum as a very approachable gathering place, a place for people to come together to interact and discuss in a thoughtful way issues that they are concerned with. It’s not just a place to look at art, but it’s a place to engage and interact with each other. Also, the downtown community is really rich and strong. I’d like to strengthen the museum’s relationship with downtown.

“We’re hoping that the discussion will start because art is sort of a neutral way to approach sometimes difficult topics. Whether it’s political topics, whether it’s topics about different cultures or different issues, people can come in and they can look at things and be thoughtful and hopefully start discussing.”

The Fresno Art Museum will continue to take online contributions for the #DowntownVisions exhibit through their website. Selections will be shown live in the gallery starting Sept. 27, when #DowntownVisions is scheduled to open.

Andrew Veihmeyer earned his B.A. in communication from Fresno State. He is the Filmworks media relations and communication intern.

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.