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"Pancho Villa" by Jorge Guillen, part of "Chicano — In the Last Days of the 5th Sun," which opens Friday at The Foundry.

On the heels of the nation's birthday, downtown will still be abuzz with all things American for its First Friday festivities. From patriotic landscapes and horses to Chicano pride, celebrate our country with artistic flair.

There are few things more American than a family success story, and such is the case with Jorge Guillen, who opens his first solo show, "Chicano -- In the Last Days of the 5th Sun," at The Foundry Friday.

The show is "completely personal. I'm attempting something that hasn't been done in the family. It's all having to do with my parents or things I experienced growing up."

Guillen's 10 portraits serve as a who's who of Latino figures.

"I picked particular images of Chicano pop culture, and I consider it's a collection of social consciousness for the masses."

Subjects include United Farm Workers leaders Dolores Huerta and Richard Chavez, and his centerpiece, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, which was a result of his work in last year's "Latination" at Metro Galleries.

"I picked that one to be the particular image, as I was sponsored by (Metro's) Don Martin last year. I ran out of red (paint), ran out of bullets. I ran out of everything I needed. Pancho Villa was the fourth painting of four that I wasn't able to do last year (for 'Latination')."

The image is striking in its use of color. That boldness reflects Guillen's efforts to focus on his art, both painting and poetry, which he had presented at Fishlips' open mic events and now at Random Writers Workshop gatherings.

"In '05, I decided to completely focus on my art. I was painting ever since I was a kid, but (in 2005) it changed into a way of life."

That focus has paid off for the 30-year-old artist, with a second place win for "Latination" in 2010 and a best in show for The Foundry's "Trash to Treasure" exhibit earlier this year.

"I used to beg people to hang my paintings in their house. Now I have my first solo show -- hopefully not my last."

The Lamont artist said he hopes this show has special meaning for the next generation, whom he wants to inspire to express themselves.

"It (the show) specifically references many things, but I want little kids to be proud that they're from McFarland, from Arvin, from Lamont.

"You have to use your voice because if you don't use your voice no one will listen to you."

Bakersfield Art Association

Over at the BAA Art Center, a group of artists united in one voice to express their patriotism for "From Sea to Shining Sea."

The works "reflect America from coast to coast," said Karen King, whose painting is included in the show.

Other works include a small sculpture by Betty Younger; a red, white and blue horsehair basket by Carol Lair; and paintings by Charlotte White, Patti Doolittle, Jeanie Truitt, Floyd Dillon, Norma Eaton, Norma Savage, Margaret Stevens, Toni Lott, Coral Poole-Clark, Cindy Stiles, Iva Cross Fendrick, Kay Hall, Fred Jacober and Mary McWaters.

Head from the Art Center to Dagny's for a display of another all-American passion -- horses -- with works by Marilyn Cameron. The painter, whose grandfather was a horse trainer, started riding at the age of 3. Although she is retired and no longer rides, the 76-year-old artist said horses still inspire her.

"I'm not unique in any way except I have a passion for horses. I always said when I'm retired and old, I'll paint them. I love cats, too. I think they're the next thing I'll paint.

"You like to paint things you love, that you care about. That's why you paint, that's why a musician plays -- the satisfaction."

Cameron, who also volunteers with Mastering Abilities Riding Equines (M.A.R.E.), said she'll have 10 watercolors on display at the coffee shop.

First Friday Tehachapi

It's too far on horseback, but you can hop in the car and head to Tehachapi for its First Friday. With its own bustling downtown arts scene, the city offers art, entertainment and food once a month.

Highlighting the July event is a screening of "The First 70," a documentary of the 70 California state parks marked for closure this month. Presented by the Save Saddleback Committee (focused on preserving Saddleback Butte State Park east of Lancaster), the event will also include volunteers from Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park discussing the current status and plans for local sites slated for closure.

State park interpreter Jean Rhyne, who helped create the Saddleback committee, said she was impressed by how the film turned out.

"I have seen some of it, and I was really amazed by the dramatic scenery they captured, and the sincerity of their personal interviews with park staff," she wrote in an email.

"We remembered when they visited our park -- it was a very small, casual filming operation that didn't really draw our attention -- so we were blown away when we saw the magnificent, professional product they made it into."

Rhyne said the screening is vital "to bring attention to the reality of what is on the line. The closure status of our local parks is changing day to day, but overall we're on a very slippery slope and we need the public's support more than ever."

Some nearby parks in the film include Fort Tejon, whose student living history program was recently preserved through donations; Tule Elk State Reserve, in negotiations to stay open; and Red Rock Canyon and Tomo-Kahni, both staying open.

Tehachapi galleries and museums also take part in First Friday. This month, CrossRoads Gallery (101 E. Tehachapi Blvd.) will showcase "Liquid Life," with works from Helen McAllister, Suzan Christenson, Flo Sussell and NASA pilot Mark Pestana. Other featured artists include Allison Gray at Fiddlers Crossing (206 E. F St.), Geraldine Veatch and Tina Dille at Gallery 'N' Gifts (100 W. Tehachapi Blvd.), and Jessica Grant at The Back Street Gallery (106 W. Tehachapi Blvd.).

The Tehachapi Museum (310 S. Green St.) will display a collection of Santa Clara Pueblo pottery that belonged to the late Betty Mead, a former publisher of the Tehachapi News. And the Tehachapi Depot Railroad Museum (101 W. Tehachapi Blvd.) is currently exhibiting vintage train timetables, Lionel's Spirit of '76 commemorative toy train set and pictures celebrating the depot's second anniversary as a railroad museum.

-- Tehachapi News community reporter Shirley Given contributed to this report