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Courtesy of Mariah Sherman Graham

“Self Portrait,” by Mariah Sherman Graham, is made of acrylic and used clothing on wood.

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Courtesy of Mariah Sherman Graham

A brightly colored abstract painting by Josiah Ihem, called “The Great Surrender.” This work is acrylic on canvas.

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Courtesy of Grace Feng

Grace Feng performs the "Moon Festival Dance" during a dress rehearsal on Sept. 14 at the Beale Library.

An enthusiastic group of art and music students at Cal State Bakersfield are inviting local residents to come to the campus on Friday and see as well as hear some of their work.

"It's our way of connecting with the community," said art student Mariah Sherman Graham. "We want people to come out and enjoy this cultural occasion. And it's free."

Dubbed the Art and Jazz Showcase, it begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Runner Park.

"As guests take the time to look at the artworks created by our art majors and minors," she added, "we encourage them to enjoy the sounds of a student jazz trio."

Runner Park is a pleasant tree-shaded area adjacent to the Student Union building on the east side of the campus, near the intersection of Don Hart Way East and Kroll Way.

This particular gathering brings to mind A Taste of the Arts, a free, open-to-the-public event that CSUB held annually until suspending it about four years ago, apparently due to budget cuts. It was a well-attended affair held in and around the Dore Theater, the Todd Madigan Gallery and spilling over into classrooms where visual art, music and theater arts are taught.

I see the current student-driven Showcase as a miniature version of Taste and a hopeful sign that it will expand and continue in 2014 and beyond. The event on Friday is sponsored by the campus programming division of the CSUB Student Affairs Department.

"They (the division) are responsible for the overseeing of any campus-sponsored events like this one," said Graham, who is acting as the affair's student coordinator.

On display will be a variety of works done by 13 students, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, drawings and print works.

Some are fairly large. For example, a boldly colored abstract by Josiah Ilem called "The Great Surrender," an acrylic on canvas, measures 36 by 48 inches. And Graham's "Self Portrait," a collage done with acrylics and used clothing on wood, is 24 inches square.

Seating will be available on the park's patio, and light refreshments will be served.


A selection of paintings created by youngsters in the KidzArt program at the Boys and Girls Club will be among the auction items at the club's annual Artfest.

Although the youngsters' art is being highlighted, the $75-per-person, Saturday-night party is definitely an adult affair. Wine tasting, featuring vineyards from the Central Coast, will be offered.

One of those offerings will be delivered via a barrel. Not being a wine aficionado, I asked Maggie Cushine, the club's spokeswoman, to explain what that meant.

"Instead of the red wine coming from bottles, it will be in the oak barrel directly from Sextant Wines," she said. "The barrel is the step in the process before it is bottled by the winery."

Jason Ahart will serve as master of ceremonies for the fundraiser; musical entertainment will be provided by guitarist James Scully, and club member Olivia Charles will be the featured soloist.

To get an idea about the source of the art to be auctioned, I spoke with Chris Borbon who instructs the KidzArt program at the club's Armstrong Center on Niles Street. Each group, he said, includes 15 to 20 youngsters, and daily sessions last about one hour.

"We start off with the color wheel and learn about mixing colors and how to do different brush strokes," he said. "We spend about two weeks on each medium: pastels, watercolor, acrylics and oils, and sometimes we use oil pastels."

Borbon, who likes to do cartooning using graphite, said he studied art at Bakersfield College and also learned a lot from his father, an artist who is now retired and living in Mexico.

Overall, the Boys and Girls Club operates three clubs and 49 school sites in Bakersfield, Arvin, Lamont and Frazier Park. The Armstrong Center is the only one that offers KidzArt.

Zane Smith, executive director, voiced his support of the annual event in a news release, noting that Artfest is important in developing a sense of accomplishment for the youths, one that has a positive impact on the community.

"The young artists donate an individual piece or pieces for the auction, and the proceeds fund art materials and classes for the following year," Smith said. "Children not only experience success as selling artists, but also the satisfaction of supporting their own program."

Dances of China

Until I spoke with Grace Feng a few days ago, I had no idea that China has such an array of traditional dances.

"There are about eight different ethnic groups and most are folk dances" she said. "China is a big country -- it (includes) Tibet and Mongolia."

On Saturday at the Beale Memorial Library, about 30 colorfully costumed adults and children will present "Dance Across China."

Modern and classical Chinese dances will be included. The performers will use traditional props including handkerchiefs, knots, fans and sleeves.

Most of the dancers are students of Feng, a local resident who operates Grace Dance Studio. Also participating are members of Sharon Zhang's tai chi group.

Feng, a professional dancer who came to the United States from Beijing in 1994, was a member of the China National Ethnic Dance Performance Troupe. She has lived in Bakersfield since 2007 and started her studio in 2009.

Tryouts for two plays

Director Brian Sivesind of The Empty Space is holding auditions this weekend for Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," to be performed Nov. 8-23.

Also being held are tryouts for "The 12 Plays of Christmas," directed by Kristina Saldana. Several local playwrights wrote the holiday-themed production, which will be presented Dec. 6-22.

To reserve an audition time, contact Sivesind by email at brianjsivesind@gmail.com or Saldana at SimplyKsal@gmail.com.

Camille Gavin's "Arts Alive" column appears on Thursday. Write to her via email at gavinarts@aol.com.