People seem to be doing everything on their smartphones these days -- chatting, shopping, watching movies -- but making art? That's a smaller circle, one that includes local photographer Coy Townson. His work will be on display in "American Junkyard: Celphonotypes" on Friday at The Foundry.
Townson coined the term "celphonotypes" for the unique images he creates by experimenting with his Droid phone's camera.
"The style mimics early photography techniques such as pinhole, tintype, daguerreotype, etc., that used long development processes to create a single image."
For years, Townson has been snapping away with his phone (and his wife's iPhone) after he gave up lugging his Canon DSLR everywhere.
"I used to carry a camera around, but I got sick of it. With a cellphone, the cameras as good as they are now, it's made life more interesting.
"Seeing the fun in this pocket-sized technology, I embraced the cell phone camera from the beginning. I've been pushing people (to take photos). It's a camera we have in our pocket all the time. You never know what you're going to find."
Despite the interest, the graphic designer for Advance Beverage Company and part-time professional photographer was testing his phone's camera skills mostly for fun.
"I was shooting but I never thought about doing a project with the cell phone. As cool as it was to shoot with the phone, there wasn't that spark of creativity."
That all changed when he discovered the app Vignette a couple of years ago.
"The first night I downloaded the app, I was floored. I love vintage photography. It took a lot of processing to do -- really. I'd shoot that on a digital camera.
"With the cellphone app, you set up that style. Instant gratification. It's all there processed and complete. It's not days and hours that you have to work on a photo. There's still time for process in post-production."
(That post work involves finishing up the images on a computer, separating the real fine art from what looks best on the small screen.)
After the epiphany, Townson wanted to focus his work, and he knew the perfect spot.
"I always wanted to do a project in my dad's junkyard, north of here, west of Delano. Eventually it will be gone. I had shot it with the DSLR. I got some really cool stuff, but never anything that was overly interesting."
Shooting some detail shots of old cars at the junkyard and the Bakersfield March Meet at Famoso Raceway, he got a great response.
"Once I posted the pictures online, people were going nuts for it. From then on, I went on (shooting) the last couple of years. (Then Foundry co-founder) Alan Urqhart asked me when I was going to do a show."
Townson returned to the junkyard with his son, looking for faces in the salvage piles and broken-down cars.
"Not in the front of the vehicle but the actual parts of the car. That brings the fun back to the act of shooting. You're being creative by searching out things, looking for things. It's a treasure hunt in a junkyard."
Along with Townson's photos, the show will display work from Quintin Grant, who has previously had a table at the First Friday's art walk.
His unique "phoneographs" are a steam punk-inspired take on a phonograph, using copper tubing to project music from a cellphone through a horn.
"By the natural sound, it amplifies the sound at the end of the megaphone," Townson said. "They sound really cool and they're really cool pieces of art."
The Shutter Clique is offering its own First Friday fun, tied into the theme of The Foundry show. The photography club will host a smartphone scavenger hunt starting at 5:30 p.m.
To play, R.S.V.P. on the group's Facebook page (facebook.com/theshutterclique) for the first location. People will gather in teams at the first site, then be issued a clue for the next location.
All locations will all be within walking distance downtown, according to member Jennifer Williams.
"We won't make it too hard and if people get stuck, we will give them clues," Williams said. "There will be two people manning computers to provide instant feedback. I hope everyone really enjoys it."
Created as a way to promote member Townson's show, hunts like this may pop up again if the club gets a good response, Williams said.
Possibly one of the hunt locations, Metro Galleries will be open, displaying "Awakenings," featuring the works of local artist Art Sherwyn; his 84-year-old mother, Doris; and his wife's uncle Dean Johnson.
At the gallery, you might also end up on camera as Metro owner Don Martin and former TV anchor and local writer Lisa Kimble record the goings-on for the "Eye on First Friday" podcast.
Other events include opening receptions for David Gordon, for this "I took These Roads" show, at the Bakersfield Art Association's Art Center; and Mel Paleo at Dagny's. A meet-and-greet is also set for Henley's Photo, which is planning photography shows for upcoming First Fridays, according to Don Martin.