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Sense of Place

Sense of Place

Coastline Art Gallery at Coastline Community College (Calif.)
University Business, May 2007

OFTEN TUCKED AWAY WITHIN A CAMPUS'S ART DEPARTMENT, college?run art galleries have to be sought out by visitors. It makes sense that Coastline Community College, which instead of a traditional campus has five main centers and a total of 50 sites spread about its service area, would create a different kind of gallery one right in the heart of the community.

- FUNCTION: To show art created by students, faculty, and the community

- CHALLENGES: Coastline already had a successful art gallery, opened with the go ahead from another local community college because it was located one street into its service area. The gallery was "doing so extremely well," says President Ding-Jo H. Currie. That is, until 2004, when the other school's leaders changed their minds about allowing the gallery on their turf. Officials at Coastline knew that having an art gallery was key to connecting its strong arts program to the public. "Art is such an important ingredient in the fabric that should be woven into the community," Currie notes.

- SOLUTIONS: The search for a new location started immediately. In selecting a spot ideally close to the college's Costa Mesa Center, where the art program is anchored Currie says, "I tried to think big." The gallery would not just be a gallery but also a place to hold lectures and other events. So the large parking lot around the chosen spot was eyed with potential; put up a canopy and some chairs, and it could make an ideal location for CCC's annual art awards, for instance. The prominent location is about two miles from the art department and near a busy intersection. Passersby can't miss it.

The then-vacant building was transformed to house an open, 2,000-square-foot gallery space with gray concrete floors and a 10-foot ceiling. Portable walls provide design flexibility. There's a "welcoming feeling" upon entering, says Currie, adding that "there's nothing to distract from the artwork." An art gallery production class is also held in the space. Future plans for fundraising dollars include both interior and exterior enhancements. For now, the gallery is off to a good start; 450 people attended its grand opening reception and 120 came to its first lecture.

- COSTS: Less than $50,000 for the renovation (plus monthly rent in lease agreement)

- TIMELINE: Renovation program completed in June 2006; regular open hours began in March 2007

- PROJECT TEAM: Southern California-based architect Steven Harby; Coastline's maintenance and operations department executed design plans, with input from the school's Visual Arts Exhibition committee -M.E.

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