A splendid array of styles and subject matter, along with a bit of local history, make up the four parts of the Summer 2013 Exhibitions opening Thursday evening at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
Heading the list is a selection of California Impressionism paintings on loan from the Irvine Museum.
"Many of the paintings in this exhibition depict the effects of natural light over oceanic scenes, glorious mountainsides, and lush open fields," said BMOA curator Vikki Cruz.
It includes the work of about 10 early 20th century artists, many of whom came here from the East Coast seeking the kind of weather that would allow them to paint almost year-round.
At least one artist was already a westerner, however. Phil Paradise, born in Oregon in 1905, spent most of his growing up years in Bakersfield, where his first studies were with Bakersfield High School art teachers Clarence Cullimore and Ruth Heil Emerson.
"During the Great Depression, Paradise began to work in a regionalist style, a manner of painting that reflected the dire circumstances of city and farm life," Cruz said. "His oil painting 'The Corral' features several horses gathered in a corral under a darkened sky."
Although the artist spent most of his career in the Los Angeles area and the Central Coast, he came back here for a few years in the 1990s before returning to Santa Barbara, where he died in 1997 at age 91.
Visitors will find some scenes reminiscent of the Kern County landscape, such as Granville Redmond's "Flowers Under the Oaks," which looks very much like a broad, grassy meadow on Tejon Ranch during the wildflower season. The California Impressionism collection is displayed in both the Cunningham and the Dezember galleries at the art museum.
A highlight of this evening's reception will be the announcement of winners in the annual Small Works Visual Arts Festival, which drew 37 entrants this year. Gordon Fuglie, director of the Central California Museum of Art in Atascadero, made the selections.
Artists who entered the competition were asked to submit work measuring 10-by-10 inches on the theme "Lost But Not Forgotten." All are displayed in the Chevron Gallery adjacent to the reception desk and all are for sale.
Cruz said Louis Chavez's "When the Levee Breaks" is just one example of that theme. His acrylic painting is based on the Mississippi flood of 1927 and the title is from a song written about the event.
"Chavez's painting depicts a Mississippi delta crow perched on a guitar made from a cigar box floating down the river," she said. "Although much was lost during this devastating event, memories live on through music and stories told by those affected."
Both the new and the old are depicted in the still life photo exhibit of Andrzej Maciejewski, a native of Poland who now lives in Canada.
Maciejewski photographs in a unique manner that is inspired by old masters of painting, like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Henri Fantin Latour, Louis Melendez or painters of the Dutch school.
"The photographer wanted to achieve similar effect in his photographs, but unlike his predecessors, he included labels to indicate the way today's foods are packaged and sold," Cruz said. "By including the stickers, he exposes the produce's origin, indicating the lengths food travels to end up in supermarkets and thus brings this historical-appearing image into a very current setting."
Cruz said Maciejewski took the original photos with a Sinar view camera and printed them on a high-quality archival paper called Hahnemuhle. Each picture is 24-by-30 inches and mounted in custom wooden frames.
This year's Eye Gallery, a partnership between the museum and The Californian, is called "96 Hours," and is a collaboration of 10 artists who were given that period of time to complete their part of a visual narrative.
"One piece at a time, each artist contributes a layer to the plot, characters, style, and mood of the narrative," Cruz said. "There is neither a mastermind nor pre-conceived plot, yet, in the end, a story is told."
Each artist was provided with reproductions of the preceding pages and written storyline in sequence. The individual contributions were published in the Eye Street section on a weekly basis.
"In the end, we have one collaborative work of art that can be examined as a whole, as well as admired for the beauty of each individual page," the curator said. "The viewer is challenged to study each page separately and imagine how it relates to its predecessors."
All four exhibits will be on display through Sept. 1 during the art museum's usual hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 12-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.