Auburn Art Walk season kicks off tonight

Artists strut their stuff in Downtown, Old Town
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Artists and art lovers will take to the streets this evening as the Auburn Art Walk season begins.

“The first Art Walk of the year seems to be just a happy time where people are out and about, they’re greeting each other – the essence of community is really evident during the Art Walk,” said Angela Tahti, executive director of PlacerArts.

People strolling through Downtown and Old Town can stop in at 25 venues to view art in a variety of media, and to chat with the artists about their work. Art Walk “galleries” include Little Belgium Deli & Beer Bar, showing Simon B. Dunn’s acrylic on canvas; Mama’s Alchemy, showing Kathi Gibson’s oil and mixed media; Courthouse Coffee, previewing North Auburn Art Studios Tour selections; and Tsuda’s Old Town Eatery, where Betty Gadberry will display works in oil and acrylic.

The Art Walk was founded 19 years ago by artists Larry Ortiz and Anthony Maki-Gill, who saw that art walks in other communities created a new way for people to see and learn about art.

“We basically created and installed art in nontraditional spaces, in order to begin to partner with this community and illustrate through example what this whole art thing is about,” Maki-Gill said. “We wanted to expand the opportunity for maybe a non-traditional art audience – folks who might be intimidated to go into galleries or a museum.”

The event that started with five venues and a handful of artists now draws about 2,000 people, Tahti said. Thanks to a partnership with the Auburn Arts Commission, the event also features several musicians and other performers throughout the night. Another partnership with the city of Auburn means that a free shuttle is available for people who are unable to or would rather not walk the whole way. A volunteer is on the shuttle to talk about the Art Walk.

One stop on the walk is the Southside Art Center, where the artists have created pieces for a spring-themed exhibit called “Walking on Sunshine.” The center is a working studio where adults with developmental disabilities gather to produce art. The colorful exhibit brings to mind sunrays and summer days, even though the weather forecast for the first Art Walk calls for scattered showers.

Before the Art Walk, from 4-6 p.m., The Arts Building Gallery hosts a sneak preview of the “Outside the Box” show, featuring artwork created from disassembled wooden boxes. Visitors can start their bids in the silent auction, and can cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award. Downstairs in the gallery, students of Linda Green have their artwork on display.

Across town, at the City Hall Gallery, a juried show celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. Paintings and photographs of the bridge were selected for the show. Frank Ordaz’ watercolor took first place among the paintings. The artist said he has been painting the bridge since he moved to Auburn eight years ago, but found a whole new inspiration when he headed there to work on his exhibit painting.

Two brothers were at the bridge, one holding a fishing pole. Ordaz asked if he could paint him as he fished, and when the man turned to reply, Ordaz saw he had only one arm.

“I just thought it was really poignant, because it’s called No Hands Bridge, so I called it ‘One Hand and a Bridge,’” he said.

The paintings can be viewed during the April 12 Art Walk; the photos will debut during the June 14 Art Walk.

Tahti said many people come to the event from all over the region. For many people, Art Walk is a highly anticipated date night or family event.

“It was designed in conjunction with the business associations, so that we could stimulate the visibility of the artists and the shopkeepers, and really highlight the town of Auburn – Old Town and Downtown areas,” Tahti said. “And to have something free and family appropriate, locally.”

Ordaz said he has seen Art Walk become a social hub, and that it’s amazing how many people pack the streets for the beloved event.

“Art Walk is a great venue for people to go out and look at art, and it’s always a big event that kicks off the spring season,” Ordaz said. “If you miss it, you kind of miss out on seeing your neighbor, seeing what’s new in town.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.



Auburn Art Walk

When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, April 12

Where: 25 venues in Old Town and Downtown Auburn

Cost: Free; shuttle available

Info: Maps and information at and at PlacerArts, 808 Lincoln Way, Auburn, or call (530) 885-5670

Next Art Walks: June 14, Aug. 9 and Oct. 11