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"Western Jackalope, Moab Utah 2012"by Claire Putney will be on display Friday in her exhibit, “Wish You Were Here,” at Metro Galleries, part of First Friday activities in downtown Bakersfield. Claire Putney.

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A work by Jennifer Williams, inspired by a young girl's drawing, that is part of the "Art Imitates Art" exhibit opening Friday at The Foundry.

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Slug: First FridayCredit: Photo courtesy of The FoundryCaption: A work by Jennifer Williams, inspired by a young girl'sdrawing, that is part of the "Art Imitates Art" exhibit opening Fridayat The Foundry.

Although you may be headed downtown this Friday, some of the art on display will transport you to another place. From seeing the world through a child's eyes to postcard travels, prepare for artistic adventure for First Friday.

The artists at The Foundry continue to stay young at heart with the new exhibit, "Art Imitates Art." Inspired by a similar show called "The Monster Engine Project," members faced the challenge of interpreting a child's drawing of a monster or creature. With 21 artists participating, the show tapped the group's creativity, according to the gallery's executive director, Christina Sweet.

"The energy level on this challenge was really high. Most of us really like what a child's mind creates. I would say the participating level was higher than normal."

The young artists are a mix of the children of Foundry members as well as those of their neighbors and Facebook friends.

Along with Sweet, adult artists exhibiting include Michael Shell, Susan Roussel, Alan Urquhart, Jeanie Hart, Jesus Fidel, Alan Willis, Kent Porterfield, Ashley Marie Sey Lively and Jennifer Williams.

Williams, who has been a Foundry member for two months, said she was drawn in by the art challenge, for which she worked with a colorful sketch by 5-year-old Alina.

"The challenge for me was defining where the line is between it no longer looking like a piece of child artwork but still staying true to the child's intention.

"When I saw the drawing, the main thing I knew I had to capture was the color. ... It was very whimsical and sweet, so I wanted to take what the artist captured in crayon and interpret that in my own way while still staying true to the original."

Williams said working with children's art is liberating.

"I think children's artwork is some of the most creative, pure art you will ever find. It's totally unaffected by rules and opinions because they are creating for the pure joy of creating. They don't know anything about color theory or elements of design, and yet, off pure instinct alone, they create these fabulous pieces."

In addition to enjoying the creative process, Sweet said one more benefit awaits the participants.

"We are all excited to see the child artists' reactions to what our artists have done."

See for yourself Friday night starting at 5 p.m.

'Wish You Were Here'

From childlike wonder to a blast from the past, head over one block to Metro Galleries on 19th Street. Local artist Claire Putney invites you to head back in time with "Wish You Were Here," a collection of mixed- media works.

"The inspiration for the show came from a shoe box in my studio (I save everything!). Kept safely in the shoe box are all the postcards that I've ever received, including those sent before I could read.

"There is something left to the imagination in receiving a postcard ... it's like a historical fiction. You will never see or experience a place in the same way as the author, but through their description and your imagination you can experience a vicarious thrill."

That thrill in the show takes inspiration from the imagery of two local postcards -- "Close Cover Before Striking: Bakersfield, CA" (of the old Bakersfield Inn on Union Avenue) and "Dear Friend: Bakersfield, CA" (the original Hall of Records downtown). There are 10 others in the collection as well.

Putney said her overall message is one of caring: "Caring enough to take the time to buy a card, a stamp and find a pen ... sit down and hand-write a message to someone special. It is a personal connection between two people that I feel is lost in text, email, Facebook, travel blogs, etc. ... I want to create that connection with my audience."

Her passion to connect continues through her art, with two more shows scheduled this year, one a group exhibit at LA Artcore in July and the other a solo show at Chicago's ARC Gallery in August.

Whether handwriting letters, which she stills sends to her grandmother, or creating art, Putney plans to stay busy creatively.

"I'll just keep making work until my fingers wither and die ... then I'll learn to draw with my toes."

Also fired up about art is Seattle artist Julia Freeman, whose "War Toys" collection will be on display at Metro as well. Freeman has a local connection through Putney, who attended graduate school with her at the University of Washington.

Freeman, who said she's inspired "by what people chose to make or destroy," drew on the history of weapons to create her own hybrids.

"I was influenced by weapons that have been created by man over the course of history to win wars.

"The paintings represent protection, fear and the desperation to gain power. ... These colorful diagrams of weapons or toys are about the absurdity of war and a play on the possibility of them actually being built for use."