Design duo creates the right look for arts center

last updated: August 02, 2007 03:21:22 AM

Thousands of details went into determining the look of the Gallo Center for the Arts.

Beyond the general design for the downtown Modesto venue, decisions had to be made about the flooring type, color scheme, theater seats and lobby furniture.

These important issues have been handled by Modesto interior design company Reed-Johnson in consultation with the architect and the arts center board.

Though Chris Reed, 62, shared her insights as a member of the arts center board, business partner Chris Johnson, 47, did much of the ground work, collecting fabric samples, scoping out suppliers and searching out just the right materials in preparation for the center's September opening.

Both designers grew up in the area and have refused any pay for their services.

"We want to give back to our community," Johnson said.

Johnson, who also serves on the arts center's board of trustees, was instrumental in the decision to use travertine stone flooring in the lobby instead of carpet.

"I was worried about the rainy season with people coming in from the rain and the carpet being dirty," he said.

Johnson and Reed got a big discount on the flooring by contacting a vendor who knew them well. They got it for $5 per square foot rather than the regular price of $15 to $20.

Johnson also helped pick the merlot color for the seats and found carpet for the 1,251-seat Rogers Theater. The original design called for a cobalt blue color scheme, but arts center President Marie Gallo preferred a different look.

"She really wanted a classic theater that wouldn't look dated 30 to 40 years from now," he said.

Together, Johnson and Reed are donating about $150,000 worth of furnishings and art for the center's Founders' Room, where private parties and meet-and-greets with the artists will be held.

The partners have a long history with the Gallos.

Johnson is a friend of Marie Gallo's daughter Gina, and designed Galletto Ristorante, owned by Gallo's son Tom, and has done other private work for the family.

Reed, who earned a bachelor's degree in interior design from the University of Houston in Texas, got one of her first big jobs designing a room at the home of late Gallo Winery co-founder Julio Gallo and his wife, Aileen.

Other major interior design projects the partners have handled include Stockton Golf & Country Club and Modesto Commerce Bank. Reed also designed the Del Rio Country Club and Johnson worked on Foster Poultry Farms.

Both partners said they enjoy helping the arts center because it's such an important addition to downtown. Johnson said he has loved getting to know Orange County architect Steve Gaffney as well as Patty Hill Thomas, Stanislaus County's chief operations officer and assistant executive officer.

Reed said the center will be a boon to the area that will create more jobs and bring in more tax revenue. She is glad to be of service to a project that will benefit the community for years.

"I've spent 35 years here," she said. "To give something long-lasting is one of the best things you can give."

The Gallo Center for the Arts, at 10th and I streets in Modesto, will hold its grand opening Sept. 27. The center has two theaters: the 1,251-seat Mary Stuart Rogers Theater and the 444-seat Foster Family Theater., 338-2100.


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