If you're out celebrating the nation (or a day off) today, save some of that celebratory spirit for Friday, when artists will brave the heat to display a series of new works for First Friday.
With a name that evokes the sweltering July Bakersfield has entered, "Steampunk'd" marks the inaugural First Friday show at Henley's Photo, which is set to bring more photography to the monthly gathering.
Alan Urquhart, former director of The Foundry, said he reached out to Henley's manager James Tiede.
"Outside of The Foundry and a few photographers setting up on the sidewalks for First Friday, there hasn't been much in terms of photography as a gallery exhibit," Urquhart wrote in an email. "I always wondered why Henley's wasn't seizing the opportunity. They are the downtown camera shop and should be the authority of photography."
The first show exhibits the work of Crysco Nabisco, aka Chris Hendrickson, a student at Bakersfield College and longtime First Friday attendee and participant in the artwalk. Hendrickson will display 20 photos of men and women in an even grittier take on the movement celebrating the industrial movement.
"Basically I've always had that love for steampunk," Hendrickson said. "I kind of wanted to bring it to life and bring my own interpretation, mix a couple of different styles. Steampunk meets high fashion meets Mad Max."
Of the four models, only one is a professional (Erica Morgan) and the rest are a part of the downtown arts scene, said Hendrickson's manager Jessica McEuen, who also modeled and built the costumes for the shoot. Jason Stewart is a local illustrator and artist who also founded HoodWink Clothing Co. He and McEuen have both exhibited at local galleries, and Paul Heinrich Speicher takes part in the monthly artwalk.
Morgan and Speicher will be in full costume at the reception, bringing more life into the story, which Hendrickson said will develop further in new work.
"This show is a movie trailer; like a beginning, a prequel to a story. ... I plan on continuing this. I do have a few other projects I'm working on that will be steampunk-driven. I may turn them into a graphic novel in the future."
Bakersfield Art Association
From gritty children of the revolution to stylized women, head over to the Bakersfield Art Association's Art Center for Dacey Dia Villarreal's "Layered Beauties." The 11 layered works combining painting and drawing were inspired by the women in Villarreal's life.
"They are family members and friends," Villarreal wrote. "I worked from photos, so I asked them if they would pose and they all said yes ... I'm a lucky person because I have great people in my life."
One work in particular set the tone for the show, Villarreal said.
"The piece, titled 'Layered Beauty #5,' was inspired by my friend Laura. I am really happy with her eyes and her gaze, and it was the direction I wanted the future paintings to have."
Villarreal, who is taking a road trip to her home state of Wisconsin this summer, said she will continue this series after photographing her mother and sister.
As Villarreal takes artistic inspiration from her loved ones, painter David Gordon looks to his hometown and his travels.
"They are all soul food paintings for me, scenes that comfort me like old palms canals and the coast," Gordon wrote. "Places where I feel like myself that are familiar. Places I pass every day that are part of my upbringing and that have made me who I am. I connect to my sense of place through these ordinary scenes."
Gordon's eight oil paintings will be on display at Dagny's Coffee Co., which hosts shows for BAA in its main room and annex with seating. The venue is a natural fit for a show, according to Gordon.
"Coffeehouses appreciate the local artist since they too are local and celebrate what is home. Coffeehouses are a way that the local artist such as myself can get my art out there and share my work to others. They are also places where people take time to visit and take a second for themselves. And what better place then there for folks to take a second and appreciate local art."
Also on display in Dagny's annex is a BAA group show depicting scenes of vacation, which show curator and artist Mimi Placencia said has a variety of meanings.
"People can interpret 'vacation' as anything other than 'work,'" she wrote. "Peggy Gardner loves gardening, I gather, as her painting is one of a single beautiful azalea. Sometimes the person needs to go to another country or place to take a vacation or rest. Sometimes going within and looking at beauty close to home is enough!"
Some, though, take viewers on an adventure, whether its across the state or the world.
"What I like about them is that they are paintings of places that we love or would love to travel to it. Some of the subjects are a painting in the small community of Harmony (population 18) on the coast. Both Betty Woollomes and Kay Hall did paintings of Morro Bay -- just different views and interpretations. Joyce Unfress' painting was of a garden in Sevilla, Spain. And, I hung one that is an early painting of Sycamore Springs (really a farm stand at a small place called Gopher Gulch near Avila)."
Other artists in the show include Iva Fendrick and Alice Goodman.
Fun at The Foundry and beyond
After a great turnout for last month's opening reception for "Bakersfield Country -- The Legends of the Bakersfield Sound," which resulted in the sale of most of the 13 paintings that night, The Foundry varies its arrangement for this month.
In addition to the current show, featuring paintings of music legends Merle Haggard, Red Simpson, Buck and Bonnie Owens and more, the gallery will also host a group show titled "Monochromatic."
"For this month's show, we have asked the members to submit a monochromatic piece, using any color they choose," wrote Christina Sweet, executive director of The Foundry. "To my surprise, half of the show came back in blue! It really is a great group of work."
The 23 pieces range in style from oil and acrylic to photography. Artists include Esteban Swear, Marisela Oropeza, Nina Landgraff, Alex Ortiz, Yvonne Cavanagh, Shelley Juhl-O'Brien, Linda Brown, John Kirkeby and Rita Seven.
Olen Taylor and Ernie Lewis of The Fruit Tramps will set the tune for the night with a live performance.
Window Sill Pie Co. will also be on hand, selling whole pies, pocket pies, brittle and jams.
At Metro Galleries, "Abstract Conversations," an exhibit of the works of Southern California-based artists Tina Bluefield and Moira Fain continues. Jazz vocalist Kama Ruby will perform at the reception.