Like the crop of newly planted trees downtown, First Friday is showing signs of growth. From a special Imagine Trees event on Eye Street (see accompanying story) to an artist going beyond his comfort zone for a new show, this month's activities reflect the event's evolving nature.
David Gordon is known for his detailed paintings of Kern County scenes, often depicting palm trees, country roads and telephone poles. But in naming this Metro Galleries show "Further," Gordon showed how he's developing his art.
"It's kind of my pushing my own comfort zone, to leave what I'm really familiar with. I've done a lot of local scenes, and now I'm branching outside of Kern County."
Although there are still recognizable images, such as the 178 overpass at Union Avenue and Monterey Street, most of the 30 images venture outside the valley. Locations include Northern California, San Francisco, Shell Beach, Los Angeles, Newport and Exeter.
The show, divided among cityscapes, landscapes and a few seascapes, illustrates what Gordon calls a turning point in his work.
"I was on a few trips, and I took a number of photographs. I started to paint some (images) to try it and see what that was like.
"I needed to be a little more uncomfortable and challenged. I want to do more complicated scenes, more crowds, more people."
But even in depicting his travels, Gordon said he brings a local perspective.
"Being a third-generation Kern County person, I can't help but bring my roots with me when I see something or I visit a place. When I paint, it's with the same palette as what I use here."
Gordon said being only a short drive away from such scenic destinations makes it easier to test his skills.
"We're lucky to live here and have that. ... I'm ready to grow, leave the area, grow and come back."
Bakersfield Art Association
The Bakersfield Art Association also is celebrating local pride this month at its art center by displaying winning art from the Kern County Fair.
BAA staff were receiving work earlier this week -- honored artists were invited to bring their work to display -- and did not have a final count, but BAA member Charlotte White was able to share details on a few early dropoffs.
"Kelly Wonderly has two (acrylics): 'Hume Lake Footbridge' and 'Don't Make Us Come Up There.' ... Her son made her frame (for 'Hume'), hand-crafted, original, totally awesome.
Also in the show is "La Silla," a colorful winning work from BAA treasurer Elleta Abuliel.
"It's a pastel, which means it took forever to do. It's a green and blue chair that you would get from Mexico. It has a pinkish fuchsia flower on the seat and blue flower on the floor beside it."
White described Marylee Frank's "Vaquero" as a detailed study of an old cowboy's leathery hands, which are resting on the horn of a Spanish-style saddle.
White said artist (and Californian employee) David Vanderpool also took great care with "Courting No. 2," a graphite piece capturing two lovers near a well.
"It's amazing. He's totally creative."
Along with her own winning work -- "Clock Tower," a plein air oil painting of winter she warmed up with ochre -- White also is exhibiting a solo show at Dagny's Coffee Co.
"They're plein air. Agriculture, buildings, some spring pieces that are agriculture."
On the BAA board for 20 years, White also coordinates the association's satellite shows, including Dagny's, which this month includes the ongoing collection from Kathy Beck, Carol Black, Norma Eaton, Cindy Stiles, Nancy Waldon and Stella Mullins.
Over at The Foundry, many artists will get the chance to shine with a trio of new shows. Along with the eclectic and imaginative "Sampler Platter," a solo installation by James Kuehne, and "Sleepy Hollow" art challenge, the gallery returned to one of its best-received shows: "Lost and Foundry."
For "Lost and Foundry II," artists created work from upcycled or recycled materials, such as books, cardboard, plastic bags, slices of wood, cans and miscellaneous hard surfaces.
Foundry director Christina Sweet said that the artists like to incorporate unusual objects in their work.
"My favorite part of the show is examining the pieces to see what all went in to them," Sweet wrote in an email. "It gives extra visual interest for me to see art that is executed on/out of normal materials."
Participating artists include Jorge Guillen, Jason Stewart, Brynia Czubko, Jessica McEuen and Gregg Haus. Sweet said more works were coming in later this week.
Along with the art, Jeremy Gonzalez will be on hand to discuss his new local magazine, Project Oh, and there will be music by country musician David Reeves Carpenter of the Mill Creek Ramblers.