AUBURN, Calif. (CBS13) – Artists at the Old Library Art Studios (OLAS) in Auburn are scrambling to pack up their paintbrushes and move out. The city said they may have other plans for Carnegie Library on Almond Street.
“We all very sad,” said Merridee Smith, an OLAS artist. “We don’t want to leave the building and we don’t want to leave our studios.”
The Carnegie Library in Auburn is full of history, and since 2000, the studios have been making there mark right here. They host art showings and teach lessons, but now the artists have to find another place to call home.
“I’ve been doing artwork since I was 12,” said Paula Amerine, who’s known for her agricultural depictions. “It makes me very sad.”
Smith said it all started with a November letter from Arts Council of Placer County to Auburn City Manager Bob Richardson.
“The Arts Council of Placer County requests to relinquish management of the facility and the management of the current Artist occupants of the facility to City of Auburn, as of January 1, 2018,” wrote Jim Crosthwaite, Executive Director of the Arts Council.
So on Jan. 2, oil painter Linda Green sent an email to the city asking how to make a payment arrangement for the rent.
Richardson responded: “I apologize for the lack of communication on this transition. At this juncture, the city will be assessing the physical condition of the building and will be working with the City’s Arts Commission to determine future use(s) of the facility. Although it could retain its current use, there will be a down period while the assessments and decisions are made. I am sorry for any inconvenience and will have one of my staff get in touch with you so everyone can remove their personal property as conveniently as possible.”
“I was a little bit stunned because I thought there would be some dialogue,” Green said.
Bernie Schroeder, Director of Public Works for the City of Auburn, told CBS13 the city has no lease or contract with the artists themselves and it needs to “carefully assess the physical condition of the building as a result of reported storm damage.”
“The roof is good, but there’s problems with drainage,” Smith said.
Schroeder also said, “It was the city’s understanding in November of 2017 that Placer Arts had contacted each of their tenants to inform them that Placer Arts was no longer interested in managing the building and that tenants are expected to relocate by the end of December 2017.”
But Smith said she never got that memo.
“We’re really just kind of not knowing what’s going on,” she said.
After selling her home studio last year, Green now has nowhere to put her supplies. And with sculptures, brushes and memories tucked in every nook, packing up won’t be a speedy process.
“I just don’t even know what I’m going to do,” Green said.
The Arts Commission met Monday evening and told the artists it plans to ask the city to give them as much time as possible to move out. But to pack everything up the right way, Smith believes they need at least a few months.