Auburn Arts Commission thinks about the outside of the box

New program the first step in expanding Auburn’s art reputation
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
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Auburn Arts Commission meetings
4:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month (Sept. 15)
Where: City Hall, Room 10, 1225 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Info: (530) 820-3644,

Members: J. Lee Buckingham, April Maynard, Terri Goodman, Timothy Grayson, Kaz Huette, Michael Murphy, Frank Ordaz and Joyce Silva

The Auburn Arts Commission has a lot on its mind these days. The eight-member board that is charged with — among other things — selecting and placing publicly funded visual art, maintaining and protecting existing pieces, promoting and sustaining art awareness in the community and seeking out funding sources to make it all happen, have taken it upon themselves to make Auburn the “arts destination of the foothills.”
Already is, you say? Well maybe those of us who live in Placer County are familiar with the dynamic art scene up here at the crossroads of I-80 and Hwy. 49, but the commission is determined to spread the good word.
“When people pull off I-80 for gas or to get something to eat, we want something there that will have an impact,” said Arts Commission member Kaz Huette. “We want them to say ‘Wow, look at this. There is more here than we thought here, let’s stay and explore Auburn.’”
The idea is that art and small business go hand in hand. The more visuals to draw outside people in, the bigger the benefit to local commerce. Utility boxes are just the first step, but it was the one approved at the last City council meeting.
“I think that’s an awesome idea,” said Auburn City Councilman Bill Kirby. “I challenged the Arts Commission to come up with more projects that maybe we don’t have the budget for but I will help them find a way to fund them. It will really benefit our community and our local artists. If we can turn the greater Auburn area into a destination place, then people will come here with that goal in mind. It would be awesome to turn us into a Sedona or a Taos.”
Sidewalk studio
For now we’ll be more like Sacramento or Berkeley or New Orleans or Boston, some of the more than 20 cities across the nation that have adopted this program. Artists submit their drawings to the Arts Commission for approval. There is a time frame in the agreement. They hope to paint 18 in all, with the first stage of eight completed by the end of October. The paints they will use have been donated by local businesses.
“First they have to be sanded and primed,” said local artist Paula Amerine. “Once primed, I will do a drawing on the box, then begin painting. After I am done painting it will have to be sealed with an anti-graffiti coating.”
Amerine said her finished box will honor the local farmers who grow or raise our food. She envisions spending about three weeks working on it, from early morning to afternoon, and is prepared for the inevitable interruptions.
“One challenge will be engaging people on the sidewalk,” she said. “Seeing what they have to say as the project goes on. I am sure it will be positive, the scope of the entire project.”
Another challenge will be dealing with the elements.
“Wind, dust, the way the paint is applied and dried, making sure the sun is not hitting it directly so it keeps the paint wet,” she said. “My work is very labor intensive. If it takes longer, I am devoted to having the product at a very high quality. I will put whatever it takes into it.”
More in the works
Other items in the works are mosaic wall murals and benches, and a sculpture walk that will connect Downtown to Old Town.
“I envision eight to 10,” Huette said. “They will vary in size but they will be substantial, like Jennifer Riley’s ‘Horse.’”
And speaking of substantial, Kurt Barton’s prize-winning sculpture, “Water Leak — Building 7,” is soon to be installed at the new park across the street from Central Square. The sculptor has offered the piece to the city on a long term loan. It’s large, it’s timely and it is something people might go out of their way to see.
“Art is the reason I’m here,” said commission member Terri Goodman. “When I moved to Roseville 25 years ago I went on the Placer Arts tour. I came to OLAS and met the artists; saw all of the studios in the countryside. I went to the box show and the Arts Building was filled with people. I thought ‘Boy, this is the best arts community I could hope to retire in.’”
The Arts Commission receives some money from the city, but not enough to fund their ambitious agenda. They are seeking monetary donations to help get these things off the ground.
“We want to be world famous,” Huette said.
Goodman would settle for the western United State famous.
“I would love to see us in Sunset Magazine,” she said.