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Her reputation hangs on displaying works of art

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Editor’s note: This is one in a series of community portraits published in this space Fridays. Almost everyone has been to a gallery to view beautiful pieces produced by creative artists. Paintings, photos, mixed media, ceramics, sculpture and many other creative endeavors are displayed for public viewing. Everything looks just right. All the work is arranged in a logical order making viewing easy and rewarding. Meet Shawn Baldwin — the person responsible for hanging and organizing the art exhibits at The Arts Building Gallery in Downtown Auburn. Baldwin grew up in Southern California and moved north to attend college at California State University, Chico, graduating with a degree in art history. Baldwin also met her husband and fellow artist, Brad, at Chico. The two moved to Auburn in March 2007 and married 10 months ago. Baldwin took a job with PlacerArts as their program specialist/gallery manager. Her job duties include gallery curator, contact person between the gallery and artist, discussing show concepts and ideas with the gallery committee, and Baldwin’s favorite job — hanging the shows for viewing. “Since I’m not doing my own personal art right now, hanging the shows is very fulfilling for me,” Baldwin said. “That personal contact with the art is rewarding.” Baldwin has been interested in art since childhood. “I remember being little and coloring in coloring books and wondering if I could ever do this professionally one day,” she said. Encouraged in her efforts by her mother, Baldwin won an art contest for a book cover at 11 and realized how rewarding art was. While at Chico Baldwin took her junior year to study art history in Florence, Italy, and also took a few classes in gallery management, spending every spare minute in the campus gallery assisting the curator. It was there that Baldwin found her love of being around art and exchanging ideas with artists. “I love working with artists, hearing the things they have to say, getting to know their personalities,” Baldwin said. “To an artist everything has a creative perspective. Things that are practical for most people, they tend to look at creatively. It’s fun for me thinking in different ways throughout the day.” One of the biggest exhibits The Arts Building Gallery hosts during the year is the upcoming Outside the Box Show, which opens April 9 during the Art Walk. Over 100 artists were given an 8-by-18-inch wooden box and one month to fill the box to their heart’s content. As the boxes come in Baldwin places them on the gallery floor for a day or two as she decides on how to hang the unique art pieces. “All the artists are from Placer County and to see 100 different boxes, no two are alike, 100 different thoughts and shapes, that’s why the show is so interesting to hang,” Baldwin said. “I need to get to know them, they need to be here for three days, they each have their own personality.” Baldwin’s job of hanging art is actually an art in itself that uses the same composition, form, balance and color skills artists use. The Outside the Box show is very popular in the community and a major fundraiser for PlacerArts. Baldwin expects over 500 attendees. Baldwin and her husband are expecting their first child. “Auburn is home for as long as it feels right. We couldn’t think of a better place to raise our children,” she said.