The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The spirit of Elk Grove shines bright with community


Those from the Golden State may be familiar with historic Elk Grove’s distinct charm and may have even heard of the woman in white who haunts Main Street. The legend has been circulating for centuries, part of the historic charm of a city that lies in the shadows of Sacramento. Now the only spirits found in Historic Elk Grove are at Bob’s Club, a saloon built in 1867. 

Elk Grove has experienced drastic growth; from a small town founded in 1850 to a center of higher education, culture, art and entrepreneurism. It was incorporated as a city in 2000. The heart of this urban sprawl resides in the diverse style and flair of the 177,000 and growing population, a healthy mix of longtime residents and short-term passers-through. The spirits that roam Elk Grove’s historic district today seek to create impactful changes in the form of greater diversity and inclusion.

Shoulder-high bookshelves display current bestsellers at A Seat at the Table Books. Photo credit: Pricilla Kumar / [email protected]

Together Everyone Achieves More 

From the moment a bookworm steps into the glass doors of A Seat at the Table Books on Laguna Springs Drive, the warm aroma of coffee beans, the crisp rustle of pages, and the click-clack of keyboards envelop them. The bookstore offers a safe seat to all identities; the LGBTQ+ community, and any body size, spirituality, neurodiversity, disabilities and more. 

For Alaska-born Emily Autenrieth, the theme of togetherness simmers in every facet of her enchanting bookstore cafe for all ages. “I love small businesses, and having a combination of cafes, books, and community space that is led by the community is a dream come true,” Autenrieth says.

Small bookstores across the world are at threat from iniquitous corporate giants and the idea of losing the creative space to the digital underbelly is distressing. “People like the idea of an indie bookstore,” Autenrieth says. “But, bookstores are not like fairies in Peter Pan, they don’t live just because you believe in them.” 

Autenrieth hopes to keep her doors chiming at A Seat at the Table books to continue as a safe space for not just the local community but all those who long for a second home. 

Emily Autenrieth highlights a new author in her store, A Seat at the Table Books. Photo credit: Pricilla Kumar / [email protected]

Create Your Space

Elk Grove’s progressive growth can be found in the intriguing and signature pieces showcased at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center located on Elk Grove Florin Road. Opening its doors in 2008, the welcoming and open-concept entrance of the gallery harmonizes human valor with displays that are expressions of local creators. 

Gallery Manager Darrci Robertson curates the magical experience of the arts and works alongside Marketing Director Heath Buckmaster. Both Robertson and Buckmaster have sought out local artists to display their work, opening the pipeline between the artist and their work. 

For Buckmaster, his workday begins with one question: “What does my community need?” Buckmaster’s tasks include keeping the gallery’s doors open with specialized events such as The Creative Place, Music Mayhem, and monthly themed art shows. “The Elk Grove Fine Arts Center is more than just a building of art,” he says. “Our workshops are aimed at elevating art education in the community and are part of our core mission.” 

As the gallery is a nonprofit, the challenge comes in the form of keeping the gallery’s glass doors open. “We need the community to know we wouldn’t exist if Elk Grove didn’t need us,” Buckmaster says. Robertson agrees, adding, “Artwork brings the community together, every month we curate a new theme which renews new creative energy in the gallery.”

The Elk Grove Fine Arts Center showcases the talents of the community. Photo credit: Pricilla Kumar / [email protected]

Draw A Rumor – Art Illustrates Life

Having taught art at the YMCA and after-school programs, surrealist illustrator Dwight Head is reminded with each pencil stroke of his roots as an artist and the importance of a visual creator. The importance of standing out in the community with personal aesthetics can be daunting. However, Head has mastered a distinct style that he continues to refine through the years in the form of collaboration. 

“You have to get out of your shell and go to installation arts and clay studios,” Head says. “As an illustrator, my artwork needs to say something to the community.” 

Because Head has such a distinct aesthetic, which encompasses brush strokes of canary yellow and royal blues, he finds himself torn between being rebellious and connecting with his audience. 

“Sometimes my artwork ends up being psychedelic, I am leaning more towards muted colors to connect with my audience,” Head says. Catching the eye of the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center, Dwight’s exhibition Draw a Rumor (Part 2), hosted the art reception at the gallery on Aug. 5 through Aug. 24.

Artist Dwight Head showcases signature art in Draw a Rumor (Part 2). Photo credit: Pricilla Kumar / [email protected]

If there is one thing that is regularly changing in Elk Grove, it is the rise of diversity. This is a small town that boasts a future-oriented and specialized entrepreneurism that embraces diversity while encompassing change. Creatives in the Elk Grove community endure many risks but have also seized the opportunity to step up and initiate a fresh way of harmonizing the local community. Being proactive and welcoming inclusiveness is a direct measurement of the human spirit. 

Abraham Lincoln used to say, “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.” The community of Elk Grove has been taking notes. 

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  • P

    Pricilla KumarOct 5, 2023 at 11:47 am

    Thank you to all of our creatives, our little town is blooming and we are here for it! <3

  • E

    EGFACSep 26, 2023 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for visiting us at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center! We enjoyed having you celebrate local arts with us.