All galleries exhibit art, but not all art is exhibited at galleries. To prove the point, Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar, which will host the inaugural Happy Arts Hour for the Arts Council of Kern on Monday.
Supporting the visual arts is nothing new for Valentien owners Jeramy Brown and Jennifer Sanderson, who also will kick off a season of Movies on the Patio Saturday. That dedication made the restaurant a perfect choice for the kickoff happy hour, said Anthony Goss, Arts Council vice president.
"We chose Valentien because they are a local establishment that has a priority of highlighting local artists to give them a space to show and sell. They promote the culinary and visual arts."
Monday's gathering is just the first in what Goss said will be a monthly Monday night event featuring local artists and performers.
"We want to provide a mixer for people on the arts, to showcase local arts organizations, businesses, venues and establishments that promote the arts in our community. Each month will be educational or experiential."
Although upcoming venues may include Stars Theatre Restaurant and The Empty Space, Goss said there's no limit geographically in the county.
"Downtown is a really fun venue, but we're trying to branch out into outlying areas and communities -- the Tehachapi area, Lake Isabella, Delano -- to highlight theater or performing arts groups there."
Also on tap for the summer is ArtVentures, Arts Council road trips to destinations throughout the state that have artistic significance. In late July or August, the council will charter a bus to head to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. Goss said plans are still being finalized but that the council will offer larger quarterly trips interspersed with smaller outings such as to the Huntington Library for a Southwest Chamber Music concert.
But first up is Monday's happy hour, which will highlight artist Liz Sherwyn.
"The work is cut paper that has been cut by an X-Acto knife. All of the work is inspired by texture and feminine patterns, a lot of floral prints that have been cut out.
Sherwyn said she takes inspiration from vintage depictions of female domesticity.
"I save a lot of images and fabrics that have interesting vintage floral patterns. ... The craft of being a wife was so amazing -- the sewing and baking and the mothering. The beauty of woman's work, visually I'm drawn to it."
Taking part in the inaugural arts event and exhibiting at a non-convetional arts space like Valentien is exciting for Sherwyn, who serves as education coordinator for the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
"I think it's fantastic, you get a different crowd. People need to be driven to go to a gallery and they have the interest in art. If you show in an unconventional space, you get to show to people who normally wouldn't go seek out art. You might strike up an interesting conversation."
Movies on the Patio
If you can't make Monday's event, you can double up on the arts, viewing Sherwyn's work (which will be up until August) before Valentien's Movies on the Patio series, which starts Saturday with "Ratatouille."
For those who think an animated film about a rat chef might be a strange pick to show at a restaurant, Valentien's Sanderson understands.
"The first time I saw that in the theater, it gave me a panic attack. All I kept thinking about was work, how horrifying that would be. It made me quite squeamish. That said, I appreciate all the research that went into the film. It's a well-done animated film, quite realistic -- other than the rats."
As a tie-in, the restaurant will serve the titular dish, a hearty vegetable stew. The remaining five films, selected based on customer requests and connection to spring, will also have a food tie-in. The season, running through May 25, is as follows:
"Bull Durham" (April 27): Since Brown wanted to pay homage to ballpark cuisine, this romantic comedy starring Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner will include a tableside bowl of a Valentien-made version of Cracker Jacks, featuring local almonds. (That is the only complimentary treat of the season, Sanderson said.)
"The Sting" (May 4): Focusing on the title rather than the plot, the highly requested hustlers' tale with Paul Newman and Robert Redford will be paired with a honey lavender cake with creme anglaise.
"Still Bill" (May 11): This documentary about Bill Withers, the musician behind such songs as "Lean on Me," "Lovely Day" and "Just The Two of Us," was high on Sanderson's list. "I know is sort of obscure. It was completely a personal selection. When I saw that documentary, I was so fascinated by his life. When we found out one of our friends had been on tour with Bill Withers, we thought it was a perfect fit." The pairing will be Withers' favorite tour bus foods, which will have a Southern flair.
"Singin' in the Rain" (May 18): Playing into springtime, this jaunty musical will pair with Debbie Reynolds' Good Morning Cake dessert, offered with siphon-brewed Covenant Coffee.
"The Breakfast Club" (May 25): The final selection is Sanderson's favorite: "I'm excited because I'm a child of that era. I haven't watch the film in a long time and I'm a fan of the soundtrack." Playing again on the title, the angsty '80s JohnHughes film will pair with a brioche French toast with bananas Foster.
Those counting on summer screenings will need to make other plans: Valentien has opted to limit its seasons to the spring and fall.
"We had decent attendance during the summer, but some nights were oppressively hot. I was amazed people came. It was still 108 out at 8 o' clock. If we get a lot of people who are upset we're not doing it in the summer, we might reconsider."
You can always celebrate foreign cinema during the restaurant's Bastille week in July, which may feature a couple of French film screenings, Sanderson said.