The Art & Culture Guide to Placer County

August 21, 2019

Already well-loved for its outdoor adventures, Placer County, California, also boasts a wealth of galleries, museums, and performing arts venues to indulge your artistic side. The Arts Council of Placer County keeps a comprehensive list of the special events to put on your calendar and a directory of local offerings to check out. From free concerts to one-of-a-kind exhibitions, consider this your inside look at the art and culture scene in Placer County.

Placer County’s Art Galleries and Exhibitions

From photography to paintings to blown-glass creations, the art on display throughout the county is an impressive mix of mediums to explore. Start your cultural tour in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the vibrant towns of Auburn, Loomis, and Roseville.

Historic Auburn is home to several galleries, museums, and local boutiques. The Auburn Old Town Art Gallery is your gateway to the region’s art scene, with displays from nearly 60 local artists. You’ll find the full spectrum of media here, from the classics like watercolors, photography, woodcarvings, and pottery, to some lesser-known techniques like scratchboarding and fiber art. Open daily, the gallery is staffed by the artists themselves, offering the chance to chat with the creators as you peruse. In Auburn, you’ll also find the emotion-evoking works of Nicholson van Altena Glass at their blown glass studio. They open the studio to visitors by appointment and for special events and tours scheduled throughout the year.

Head to Loomis to discover the funky flair of the local art collective at High Hand Art Gallery. Roughly 30 artists showcase their work here, including ceramics, oil paintings, jewelry, photography, and wood and metal works. Stop in for its regular gallery hours Tuesday through Sunday, or plan ahead to join in on an art class or special event. In Roseville, be sure to visit the elegant Blue Line Arts gallery. With rotating exhibitions of regional and national art, adult art workshops, artist meetups, and children’s programs, Blue Line functions as a modern epicenter for art lovers in the region.

The North Lake Tahoe area of Placer County is known for several impressive art galleries and photography exhibits. At the top of your list should be Gallery Keoki in Olympic Valley, where Keoki Flagg showcases his world-renowned nature, outdoor adventure, and travel photography. This hip, modern gallery is open daily and also provides a unique venue for private events.

North Tahoe Arts supports the arts through exposure, education and participation with workshops, ARTour and other special events. The ARTisan Shop features 25 local artists showcasing handmade local art including painting, photography, jewelry, fiber art, glass, ceramic and more.

Live Music Venues and Events Not to Miss

Throughout the year, live music is a staple in Placer County. Come summer, locals and visitors alike are drawn to the shores of Lake Tahoe and the mountain resorts for a full season of open-air concerts. Among the local favorites are the free, Sunday afternoon concerts at Commons Beach in Tahoe City and the Summer Music Series at Squaw Valley High Camp on select Tuesday and Friday afternoons.

In the foothills, the Auburn Symphony is the county’s premier community orchestra, putting on a full calendar of concerts with local orchestra members and rotating guest artists. In addition to the indoor shows, they also host a free symphony in the park once a year. Meanwhile, in Rocklin, the 1,000-seat Quarry Park Amphitheatre hosts an eclectic mix of outdoor concerts in the summer.

Performing Arts Venues to Explore

The Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, also known as the Auburn State Theatre, is the premier live entertainment and cinema venue in the area. Here you’ll find independent, classic, contemporary, and documentary film screenings; live music and dance performances, and community plays and theatre. The young performers of Placer Theatre Ballet showcase the art of storytelling through the art of dance. Dancers from throughout the region audition for spots on the cast for The Nutcracker every December and other seasonal shows.

Placer County Events for Art Lovers

Coming together to enjoy and celebrate art truly enriches the experience. Join one of the annual Auburn Art Walks that take place monthly throughout the summer. These evening events are hosted at rotating locations in Auburn on the second Thursday of each month. At each art walk, about 10 local venues (typically a mixture of galleries, boutiques, and open-air community spaces) participate with special exhibitions, live music, and visits from the artists.

Early November marks the annual Placer Artists Studios Tour. Artists throughout the county open their studios or showcase their works in special events during this weekend-long event. Grab a map and visit the studios for an opportunity to meet with the local artists.

No matter when you visit Placer County, you’ll find unique cultural offerings in a beautiful setting. Take advantage of this thriving art community on your next visit—you won’t be disappointed.

Written by Jenna Herzog for Matcha in partnership with Visit Placer County.

Featured image provided by Anna Kolosyuk