Owners take on ambitious plan to revamp and revitalize space
Courtesy of the Auburn Journal, Eyragon Eidam
New life is stirring in the once bustling headquarters of Placer Arts. Since mid 2014, when the not-for-profit entity reorganized its footprint at 808 Lincoln Way, the spacious building sat nearly empty with only a handful of artists holding on.
Today, the story and the building are changing for the better. Construction — and some deconstruction — is underway to transform the building into something new, something exciting for Auburn’s arts and entertainment scene.
Building owner representative David Burns said the transformation will ultimately result in an arts and events destination for the entire city to enjoy.
“We really want to support the community with the arts,” he said. “My family has always been very active in the arts.”
The building, in one form or another, has been in the Burns family for roughly 130 years. This heritage is part of the drive behind what Burns said will be called the General Gomez ARTS and Events Center.
For those uncertain as to just who General Gomez is, the character harkens back to a pre-turn of century Cuban revolutionary chosen as the namesake for his great-great-grandfather E.W. Burns’ line of handmade cigars.
Burns and his sister, Carolynn Basque, saw the name as a fitting moniker for the family’s new direction for the space.
Some of the dividing walls that once cordoned off the upstairs studio spaces are being removed to make way for more flexible, moveable partitions to fit each user’s needs.
In addition to art shows, class space and events, the Placer Arts offices and artists will remain in the building for the foreseeable future.
Fine jewelry makers Cathy Cline, who has studio space in the building’s lower level, said she sees the surge of activity as an opportunity for both the artists-in-residence and Auburn as a whole.
“I’m seeing the potential for all of the new changes to be very positive for the arts and Auburn,” she said.
Both Cline and Burns hope the new direction will pull new attention to the space and artists working there.
Placer Arts Interim Executive Director Gloria Coutts said she recently signed the organization’s portion of the lease and is looking forward to the potential of more visitors.
“Despite the fact that we haven’t had a gallery show since the end of December, people are coming in regularly,” she said.
Coutts said arrangements have been made to host weekly writing workshops as well as classes and workshops hosted by artists in residence.
A grand opening celebration and juried art show for the General Gomez Arts and Events center is scheduled March 28.