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Modesto's Mistlin Gallery gets reprieve, for now

Downtown Modesto's Mistlin Gallery will remain open, at least for a while longer.

The nonprofit Central California Art Association, which runs the gallery, has decided not to shut it down at the end of the month as previously announced.

Brad Hawn, the association's previous president and a Modesto councilman, has said it didn't have the money for the rent.

But Doris Scanlon, who recently replaced Hawn, said Tuesday that upon further review, the board decided the gallery could afford to stay using mainly volunteers. The gallery now has one paid staff member.

"We want to move slowly and prudently," she said. "We will be remaining because we do have other shows that are scheduled."

The 5,400-square-foot gallery, which opened in 2004, will continue to sell local and out-of-town artists' work and hold classes for children and adults. It is a major stop in downtown's Third Thursday Art Walk.

The long-term future of the gallery is not certain, however. Landlord Civic Partners has told the gallery it is looking for a tenant to pay higher rent. A few months ago, Civic Partners reduced the rent of nearly $5,000 a month to $1,000 to help the gallery.

Scanlon said the art association will step up fund raising and keep looking at other options for gallery space.

"We're going to a very bare-bones operation," she said. "We're going to do a vigorous membership campaign, not only with present members but hopefully also with people interested in the arts. We have a lot of work to do."

The gallery will try to keep its hours of 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays but may not always be able to because of the volunteer staff, Scanlon said.

Grace Lieberman, president of the Stanislaus Arts Council, said she is excited Mistlin is staying open.

"We need a first-class gallery in town," she said. "We really need a gallery for local artists."

Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at lmillegan@modbee.com or 578-2313.

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