Auburn's historic Carnegie Library building is home to an innovative artist-in-residence program designed to continue to allow public access while nurturing the arts.
Known as OLAS, the Spanish word for waves, the Old Library Art Studio program is a self-supporting source of creative energy that enhances the cultural life of the city of Auburn. A community of artists' studios in the once-empty historic Carnegie Library building fills the space with waves of creativity that flow out to the community. It is a place of positive cooperative effort and a source of great pride.
A program of PlacerArts, OLAS is located in close proximity to historic Downtown and Old Town Auburn, The Arts Building and the many trailheads of the American River recreation area.
BACKGROUND: The Auburn City Library, organized in 1906, was opened to the public on December 27 of that year. Application was made to the Andrew Carnegie Corporation in 1907 for funds to construct a library building, and a $10,000 grant was approved the same year.
Property owned by W.B. Lardner at 175 Almond Street was chosen as the site, and construction began in April 1908. The library was dedicated on May 26, 1909. The building served as a library until 1968 when the City and County Library systems were combined and a new library opened at 350 Nevada St.
The Almond Street building was vacated at that time, and lay dormant until 1983 when the Arts Council of Placer County, formerly known as Artcetera, occupied it and developed the Auburn Arts Center. There, many exhibitions and programs in visual and performing arts were enjoyed by the public until 1997, when the Arts Council of Placer County, now known as PlacerArts, relocated its office to downtown Auburn.
Through a grant from the Placer Community Foundation, matched by the City of Auburn, renovation of the historic building began in 1998. Initial renovation projects were completed and the building was readied for a new life as the Old Library Art Studio (OLAS). A re-dedication ceremony was held on May 26, 2001. In addition to the OLAS program, the Placer County Historical Society maintains an office and holds periodic meetings in the building.
At the turn of the millennium, the beautiful old library building was designated as a historic landmark. In June 2009, a centennial celebration was held in cooperation with the Placer County Historical Society and the Auburn Friends of the Library.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO: There are currently five artists-in-residence at OLAS. New work in a variety of media is in continual production. Make an appointment to visit with the artists and see art in action or attend one of many scheduled public events, including the annual Autumn Art Studios Tour or Auburn Art Walks. OLAS artists work independently and collaboratively to produce original works of art, fulfill commissions and public art projects. They also facilitate school and community tours by appointment.
Learn more about OLAS via www.PlacerArts.org/olas, where you may click on the artist's name for an artist profile:
Paula Amerine - oil, pastel Thien Dao - clay sculpture Gerda Francesca - clay sculpture Deanna Marsh - steel, copper, aluminum and kiln-formed glass sculpture Merridee Joan Smith - dyes on silk