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Henry A. Barrios

Partners in the Foundry art gallery are Alan Urquhart, director, and Christina Sweet, executive director, along with Alan Willis, director (not pictured).

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Henry A. Barrios

The work of Vienna, age 5, is displayed at the The Foundry art gallery in downtown Bakersfield. The exhibit, "Art Imitates Art, II," will feature the children's art as well as a professional artist's interpretation of the pieces, which is the one above.

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Henry A. Barrios

Christina Sweet, founder of the Foundry art gallery.

Ages ago we proudly presented our best pieces of artwork to our parents for the assurance of our talent. The bright sparkle in our eyes used to glisten as we smiled when Mom or Dad sandwiched our masterpieces between a magnet and the refrigerator.

One would never assume that an ordinary child's Crayola-colored drawing posted up on the refrigerator could ever come to life and be sold in an art gallery. But that's exactly what's taking place here with the help of professional artists.

It's a simple idea with truly amazing outcomes -- an artist takes a child's handmade image and brings them to life through acrylic and watercolor techniques. You then end up with an elaborate fragment of a young mind's eye.

The exhibit is called "Art Imitates Art, II," and is organized by Christina Sweet, founder of The Foundry art gallery. Last year, Sweet asked kids to send in their artwork, gave The Foundry artists a chance to pick what children's art they wanted to interpret, and gave the artists two months to complete their works.

Artists at The Foundry -- at 1608 19th St. -- have taken the children's drawings, and creating the same basic geometric shapes, have painted a wonderful take on the younger artists' imagination, Sweet said.

The idea comes from New York-based artist Dave DeVries who created the book "The Monster Engine," a project that uses illustration techniques to transform children's drawings.

DeVries -- a comic, video game and concept artist -- would use monsters drawn by children and render them realistically, with airbrush, acrylic and colored pencil, while giving them a gritty and devilish sort of look. The final collection of drawings made for the project ended up in a 48-page book by the same name.

"I contacted him and he was really excited about us doing the show last year," Sweet said. "And because it went so well last year, we decided to do it again this year."

For Sweet's exhibit last year, all but four of the 23 works sold. The children attended the showing with their parents, grandparents and other relatives, she said.

"The kids love it," Sweet said. "We give them a little present for helping, and they get to see what an art show is about."

This year, The Foundry plans to display works from 35 artists for the "Art Imitates Art, II," exhibit, which opens March 1, during First Friday. The gallery will remain open for a month, until April's First Friday.

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to charities of the children's choice.