Carnegie Debuts Founders Wall, New Exhibit of Turlock-Themed Art

Kailey Fisicaro/|

The Carnegie Arts Center debuted its new Founders Wall last Friday, inviting donors to see the reveal of the glass wall and enjoy the current exhibits on show.

Some of the donors, like Pat Wilkey of Wilkey Industries have long been supporters of the Carnegie, even before it became in arts center.

The Carnegie’s namesake, Andrew Carnegie, the famous industrialist who supported literacy through his great philanthropy, donated funds to Turlock to build what was originally the Carnegie Library in 1917.

The Carnegie ran as a library until 1968; it became the Carnegie Arts Center in 1979.

“In the dark ages I used to work here,” said Wilkey. “When it was the library I used to work in the children’s section when I was in late grammar school and early high school.”

The memory is a warm one for Wilke, who has long held the Carnegie close to her heart, and enjoys the current Roman Laranc photography exhibit now in the Ferrari gallery. Pat and Don Wilkey’s names both appear on the new glass Founders Wall.

“I think I got paid a little bit but in those days it wasn’t much, it wasn’t $8 an hour,” explained Wilke with a laugh. “They were supporting me because that was good for me.”

Wilkey worked at the library during the mid 1950s as a young teenager in Turlock.

“I don’t know how I got involved except I’ve always loved reading,” said Wilkey.

During the dedication speech, Jeani Ferrari discussed some of the center’s past struggles, thanking donors for their contributions to the center’s success.

“Our endowment was originally a $2 million fund drive campaign and we kicked that off at the worst possible time when the economy was reeling … we seemed to be in the shadow of the Gallo even though we were a very different art institution, but after we got going and we found lots of friends to support us … we had many opportunities,” said Ferrari. “I can’t thank you enough.”

Most of the rooms at the center have been named in honor of donations made by local families and businesses, but the plaza and loft have yet to be named. Ferrari explained that the Carnegie hopes to see donations made in honor of these areas within the next few years.

A new exhibition at the center, on view in the Hilmar Cheese Company Lobby from March 7 through May 4, showcases the perspective of three artists: Joanne Benedict, Gity Miller, and Hope Werness.

“At Home in Turlock – Three Perspectives,” captures some of “Turlock’s rich history and the architecture” according to Lisa McDermott, Interim Director. All three of the artists have their own connection to Turlock, with Benedict’s close family ties, Miller’s residential status, and Werness’s retired position as Professor of Art History at CSU Stanislaus.

Benedict, currently a resident of Santa Barbara, focuses her watercolor works on the more recognizable homes of Turlock, and Miller uses black and white photography to represent some “architecturally significant homes” of in a documentary style. Werness though, instead of homes, focuses on familiar signs and symbols around town through created digital images “that bring back specific memories for many residents but also speak to a collective sense of nostalgia,” according to McDermott.

The free, public exhibit will be on show in the Carnegie’s lobby through May 4. The center will also host a free reception for the artists March 21, from 5 to 7 p.m. 

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