'Outside the Box' exhibit opens April 12

Spaghetti, driving dog, snakes just part of exhibit
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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The “Outside the Box” exhibit at The Arts Building Gallery downtown has been deconstructed – and the artists couldn’t be happier.

This is the fifth year for the exhibit, which calls on 100 artists to create pieces out of plain wooden boxes. After two months of work, the pieces are displayed at the gallery. This year, the artists were given deconstructed wooden boxes to work with.

Entries this year include a sculpture of a dog at the wheel of a truck, a bowl of spaghetti and one shudder-inducing entry featuring lifelike clay snakes crawling through piles of money. Sculptor Wayne Mumma said the piece is called “Politicians, One and All.” He said the piece was inspired by “the lousy politics in America today. To me, the snakes were the best metaphor.”

At the same time Mumma was submitting his piece, an Auburn politician was submitting hers. City Council member Bridget Powers said she has never created a piece of art before, but was inspired to make “Community” in honor of her friend Skip Outman, a longtime Auburn Realtor who died in March. Powers’ piece is a large hanging mobile covered with artwork, signatures and remembrances.

“I’ve never done anything artistic before,” Powers said. “So I decided that I wanted to make it all about community. It has pictures and drawings and autographs of people all throughout the community, plus my family.”

The exhibit opens April 12 in Downtown Auburn, coinciding with the first Art Walk of the season. Artists will display at 24 venues throughout Downtown and Old Town, meeting the public and answering questions about their art. There will be live music at various locations.

The artists donate their time, materials and creativity each year to “Outside the Box,” which culminates in an auction to benefit PlacerArts programs throughout the county. The only rule for submissions is that artists must use the box in some way. PlacerArts Executive Director Angela Tahti said she enjoyed seeing the artists’ reactions as they collected their tied-together pieces of wood, and was excited to see what they made out of them.

“Outside the Box” is modeled after a similar exhibit in Point Reyes that Joanne Neft and Susan Dupre discovered during a visit. They weren’t the only ones who thought it would be a great addition here.

“We have just a wonderful artist community, a very generous community of artists” said Dupre, who co-chairs the committee with Kristin Fiore, “And it’s a very simple idea.”

Tahti said “Outside the Box” welcomes not only established artists in the county, but also emerging artists and community members new to art. She had some convincing to do with Powers, who said she couldn’t even sketch a stick figure. 

“She thinks she can’t do something artistic, but she came up with a really clever piece,” Tahti said. “I hope she thinks of herself differently – I hope she recognizes her own creativity.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at, or on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.



Outside the Box

When: Exhibit on display and silent auction bids accepted April 12-May 19. Special viewing from 4-9 p.m. Thursday, April 12. Live art auction at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 19

Where: The Arts Building Gallery, 808 Lincoln Way, Auburn

Info: (530) 885-5670,



Auburn Art Walk
When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, April 12
Where: 24 locations in Old Town and Downtown Auburn.
Cost: Free; free shuttle available
Info: Visit for a complete list of venues and artists, or pick up a map at PlacerArts, 808 Lincoln Way, Auburn.