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Photo by Michelle Guerrero

Jade Yang, Victoria Lusk, Mariah Bathe, Manuela Torres-Orejuela and Ellie Sivesind appear in “Sweet Charity.”

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Photo courtesy of Jesus Fidel

“Instaspace” by Kristina Saldana will be among the works on displays at the “Too Many Logos” art exhibit at The Empty Space.

Charity Hope Valentine -- the full name of the lead character in Neil Simon's "Sweet Charity" -- pretty well sums up the reason she keeps falling in love with men who eventually jilt her.

"She always believes she's finding that one true love but her heart gets broken a lot," said Lorenzo Salazar, director of the musical comedy that opens Friday at The Empty Space.

"It's been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in high school," he said in a recent phone conversation. "I'm 30 now and I get to put my own spin on it; I feel lucky that The Empty Space gave me the venue to do it."

Mariah Bathe plays the part of Charity, the good-hearted but gullible New York City taxi dancer. The role is a switch for Bathe, who starred in the title role of "The Diary of Anne Frank" three years ago at the Oak Street playhouse.

In "Charity," her new love interest is Oscar, portrayed by Kyle Gaines, an enthusiastic East High student who was a stand-out in his recent debut performance at Stars' production of "Fox on the Fairway."

In the opening scene, Charity's then-current relationship ends abruptly when her boyfriend steals all her money. Later in the backstage dressing room at the Fandango Ballroom, she gets little sympathy from her cynical colleagues, played by Jade Yang, Victoria Lusk, Manuela Torres-Orejuela and Ellie Sivesind.

Salazar describes the show as "very campy" and predicts audiences will be familiar with some of the songs, especially "Big Spender," and "If My Friends Could See Me Now." The vocals will be sung live to recorded instrumental music.

Even though The Empty Space has a small stage, several dance numbers designed by Salazar with the assistance of Danielle Radon will be included. Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse created the dances for the original Broadway show.

Admission to the gala opening on Friday is $20 and includes "desserts and libations."

Salazar said the theater is setting aside its usual free admission policy that evening to help cover part of the higher royalty costs for producing big musicals.

Logos abound

Instead of putting up a fireworks stand to raise money as they have in the past, members of The Empty Space are holding an art fundraiser. It's a group exhibit called "Too Many Logos!" and it opens with a reception on Saturday afternoon at the theater.

The exhibit's title caused me to wonder if the theater was thinking about changing its logo, which is centered on a pair of slightly open doors.

"No -- we are not changing our logo," said gallery director Jesus Fidel. "It was just a fun and creative art project we did with our actual logo, as a way to raise funds for our theater."

Participation was limited to members of the board, so the exhibit includes 20 acrylic paintings. Each is 11-by-14 inches and incorporates The Empty Space's logo.

I found several of the images amusing, in particular Kristina Saldana's "Instaspace," in which a photo of the logo is emerging from a box camera reminiscent of the Polaroid.

Then there's Cody Ganger's "The Empty Face," a painting of a derby-hatted man whose face shows only the logo, and Jessica Burzlaff's "Wake Me Up Before You Van Gogh," which has a background similar to the famous artist's "Starry Night."

Each painting is up for bid in a silent auction that ends at 10 p.m. on June 28. Minimum bid for the original paintings is $100; prints may be purchased for $20.

Manga art workshop

Local artist Crystal Appleton is introducing the basics of manga art to teens in a series of workshops at Beale Memorial Library that began the first week of June.

"Each workshop can stand alone," said Maria Rutledge, head librarian. "It's not necessary to attend all of them."

The third session will be held on Friday afternoon in the library's Tejon Room on the second floor. Two more are scheduled for 4 p.m. on June 21 and June 28.

Manga is a style of art developed by Japanese artists and often used to create anime, a form of cartooning.

Mechanical pencils and sheets of 11-by-17-inch paper will be provided at no charge.

The workshops are sponsored by Friends of the Kern County Library.

Mary Einstein scholarship

Local artist Iva Fendrick, who announced the establishment of the Mary Einstein Scholarship last Friday at the Art Center, shared an interesting story about how the scholarship came to be.

It centers on a private home and some might call it a coincidence.

Fendrick said the daughters of the late Mary Einstein approached her about donating their mother's extensive pottery collection to the Bakersfield Art Association because they felt a kind of kinship with the artist.

It seems that Anne, Paula and Evie Einstein -- all three go by their birth names although two are married --grew up in the house where Iva and her husband Randy Fendrick now live.

"At one time I was a potter, among other things," Iva said. "I had a little kiln on the side porch, just as (their mother) did."

The women's parents -- Dr. Hans and Mary Einstein -- purchased the home, their first in Bakersfield, when they moved to the city in 1951.

"Mary always had a passion for art," Fendrick said. "In the 1960s, she began taking ceramic classes and private lessons from Victor Bracke, a well-known teacher at Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield College -- about 15 pieces of his work are in the collection."

Following the couple's divorce in 1969, Mary Einstein moved to Laguna Beach, where she became interested in making jewelry, an interest that continued until her death in 1981.

Sales of the collection and other donations will fund the scholarship for college art students. To date, more than $500 has been raised.

Select pieces from the collection are being displayed in a glass case at the Art Center, the BAA's gallery at 1817 Eye St.

Father's Day projects for kids

Using craft kits, youngsters and their parents can make a model of a 1969 Corvette or an F-18 Fighter on Saturday at the Beale Memorial Library.

"It's a great family activity," said Maria Rutledge, head librarian. "We also have eight adult volunteers to help the children."

Several volunteers are faculty members at either Cal State Bakersfield or Bakersfield College.

Two back-to-back workshops will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, each designed for a different age group. The first group, for children 5 to 9, will make the fighter plane. The second group, for ages 9 and older, will make the Corvette starting at 3 p.m.

The workshops are sponsored by the International Plastic Models Society.