Point to any square on the calendar, and you can bet something will be happening at General Gomez Arts and Events Center in Auburn: Live music, poetry, visiting monks, MLK celebrations, a Oaxacan artist exchange, even weddings -- and all of it is steeped in art. The center's moveable walls, nooks, and cubbies proudly display photography, watercolors, acrylics, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media and so much more.
Even in the quiet times between events, the building is abuzz with artists creating in their studios or sculptors teaching the art of clay downstairs.
David Burns and his sister Carolynn Basque opened the LIFE Gallery (LIFE is an acronym for Liberation, Independence, Freedom and Expression) almost three years ago, but the building has been in the family for more than 130 years.
If those brick walls could talk, the stories they would tell.
The siblings' great-grandfather, Ernest Burns, moved his cigar factory to the location at 808 Lincoln Way during the Gold Rush, where he rolled General Gomez cigars, named after the much-admired General Maximo Gomez, who helped to liberate Cuba from Spain.
Since then, the site has had a few incarnations, including time spent as a hardware store and as a furniture store. David and Carolynn wanted to turn the space into an art center because they like being around artists.
"We get to be around creativity all day," Burns said. "When people are creating, they're not trying to argue. It's inclusive. It's all unique in the way it celebrates diversity."
If you'd like to experience the community-building that's happening at General Gomez, here are a few opportunities:
February and March: Placer Community Theater presents "Steel Magnolias" and dessert
April: Ordaz and Friends Art Show, which includes Frank Ordaz (of Star Wars fame) as well as local artists Paula Amerine and Larry Alberts.
May: The Out on a Limb art show will feature birdhouses made by local artists.
June: The Placer Artists' League Art Show will be on exhibit.
For more information about events or classes, visit the General Gomez website or call 530-745-4320.