Art Works Gallery: A cultural experience

FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND ETSY ARE all opening up new opportunities for artists. To most art buyers, however, collecting art is more like performing arts than traditional retail. It is about an experience, not a process.

Art collectors like to see the art in person, touch it—even meet the artist. They also enjoy visiting art galleries when they are traveling, seeking out a cultural experience.

Our region has some superb independent art galleries, helping to define the “sense of place” that is a theme of this issue. They are located in Nevada City, Grass Valley, Auburn, Truckee and Sutter Creek, among other Gold Rush towns.

Few art galleries in our region place more emphasis on the art-buying experience than Art Works Gallery in historic Grass Valley. With a motto “local art by local artists,” 32 juried visual artists cooperate in presenting their work, which includes ceramic, glass, jewelry, painting, furniture, fiber art, metal, mosaic, mixed media, photography and sculpture.

The artwork is displayed in a well-lit space in a restored Gold Rush-era building at 113 Mill Street. The gallery’s imaginative window displays, showcasing the artists’ work, have become a highlight of shopping in downtown Grass Valley.

The artists are full partners in the gallery, because it is an art cooperative. They work together to keep the gallery fresh. The artwork is rotated every three months and new work is included with each rotation. A complete list of the artists is at

The artists also work in the gallery, a real benefit. They can arrange for collectors to meet the artist and discuss a piece that resonates with a would-be buyer.

The gallery hosts special shows and exhibits throughout the year. This spring it will host a winery and restaurant during the annual Foothill Celebration, creating an experience centered around food, wine and art.

A community’s investment in arts and culture is known as “creative placemaking,” which means using the arts to develop an area where people want to live, work and congregate. “The idea is to treat the arts as an essential part of the city’s identity,” observed Craig Watson, director of the California Arts Council in Western City, the magazine of the California League of Cities. “Successful creative placemaking builds the economy at the local level, enhances surrounding non-arts businesses and provides job opportunities.”

(Image: Eileen Blodgett)

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