Downtown Auburn Arts & Event Center Debut

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March 26, 2015

Revamped former ARTS Building ready after rebranding

Courtesy of Gus Thomson and the Auburn Journal

General Gomez Arts & Events
Gus Thomson/Auburn Journal
Nancy Hakala, at left, and Carolynn Basque move a pedestal box in place in preparation for Saturday’s grand opening of the General Gomez Arts and Events Center at Downtown Auburn’s 808 Lincoln Way

Freshly rebranded and ready to start a new chapter, the newly renamed General Gomez Arts and Events Center officially debuts Saturday, March 28.

In the Burns family for 130 years, the 808 Lincoln Way building in Downtown Auburn is envisioned by its longtime owners as not only a space for artists to create and show but also a venue for entertainment, parties and other events.

A former hardware store, and then a furniture store, the spacious storefront has most recently seen service as the ARTS Building. Co-owner Carolynn Basque said that the residual business and energy of the ARTS building will continue.

“It’s very important to us as we want to take it to a new level by introducing General Gomez to the community and reviving the discovery of liberation, freedom and independence,” Basque said. “We want to bring about a place unlike any other – one that will capture the imagination of all who come within it through art and gatherings.”

In the end, the building will transcend its brick and wood to become a vessel for independent thought and creativity. Ultimately it will give artists a fresh voice and create a climate of community, Basque said.

The grand opening will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Saturday, signaling the new beginning of a gathering place centering around the Gomez Life Gallery.

“Life gallery stands for liberation, independence, freedom and expression,” Basque said.

The gallery has moveable pillars that allow shifting displays of art but also movement to open the interior to facilitate sit-down events. The configuration allows seated concerts for up to 145. Without seating, the building holds 280.

Some of the artists initially showing works at the gallery are Reif Erickson, Joe Strickland, Deanna Marsh, Juan Pena, James Hirschinger, Gerda Francisca, Kaz Huette, Traci Owen and Patty Pieropan Dong.

Nancy Hakala, an Auburn artist, said that she’s excited about the rebranding and new vision for the building, as exemplified by the first show “Aqua Vistas,” showcasing the spirit and essence of water and activities surrounding it. The show runs from Saturday to April 25. Hours for the gallery are 10-5 Monday-Thursday and 10-8 Friday-Sunday. There will be 45 artists and 70 pieces on display.

“These are some of the area’s best artists and the art is just fantastic,” Hakala said.

Who is General Gomez?

The Burns family heritage goes back to the 1850s in PlacerCounty, including Ernest W. Burns, an early day Auburn entrepreneur. Among his enterprises was a business in partnership with Robert Wise that manufactured the General Gomez Cigar for several decades. Maximo Gomez was a general who helped free Cuba from Spain in the latter half of the 19th century. The cigar was in honor of the general’s quest for liberation and freedom that was eventually backed successfully in the Spanish American War by the United States.