Arts group finds a new home

The Outlet Collection, 222 East Main – and 108 S. Division, where the roof partly fell in.

The Outlet Collection, 222 East Main – and 108 S. Division, where the roof partly fell in.

If the reluctantly peripatetic artists of Auburn Valley Creative Arts have the count right, their new HQ on East Main is gallery number four.

As of this week, the 30-to 50-member arts organization is firmly ensconced in what had been the women’s department of the former Rottles store on East Main.

Since leaving The Outlet Collection, being without a place to physically show their work has been tough on these artists. So when they say they are delighted to be there, baby, you’d better believe it.

“We have a six-month lease, and after that we are going to go month to month,” Jenn Oberheuser, treasurer of the AVCA board and herself an artist, said Monday. “John Rottle has been extremely generous with us. He said it’s ours as long as we want it and he doesn’t have someone purchasing it. So, hopefully we’ll be here a long time. It’s 1,000 square feet, so we aren’t taking up the whole space.”

The Sept. 9 grand opening coincides with Auburn’s Art Walk and Wine Tasting event, and an estimated 22 artists are planning to participate in the first show, which runs from September to October. It will be followed by the second show from November to December.

“There are a few things we have to take care of between now and then,” said Oberheuser, eyeing a gap in the ceiling tiles.”The building’s been empty for a year.”

It’s about introducing art to the community, the community to art, said Amanda DeSilver, vice president of AVCA and a painter.

“Art is something you need to experience, you need to see it,” DeSilver said. “You can see it online in colors that may or may not be the right ones, but I think you really have to experience art, so to speak, in the flesh.”

“You can just walk into the place and smell the oil paint,” Oberheuser added. “You can’t smell the oil paint when you are looking at a computer. You can’t walk around a sculpture, you can’t feel tactile items online, you have to hold them in your hand, you really have to be part of it.”

Their hope is that the new home becomes a learning area for other artists. Indeed, as Oberheuser and DeSilver were speaking, volunteers were preparing a children’s area, into which Auburn’s future artists will come, attend classes and create.

“What’s truly grand for us is that we have been shuffling about from location to location for so long,” Oberheuser said. “The Outlet Collection was a nice place to be for a while. As I said, John Rottle has been very generous, and I think it’s the first time we feel like the community is really behind us and really supporting us. A lot of neighboring businesses have walked by and told us how happy they are that we are coming back to downtown. They’ve been supporting us by putting postcards out and spreading the word. We feel like we’re welcome, and it’s nice.”