Christmas arrives a bit early this year -- at least downtown. First Friday will set the scene with horse-drawn wagon rides, "Misfit Toys," shopping and even an appearance by Santa.
The big guy will set up shop at In Your Wildest Dreams Consignment and Antiques, where kids will share their wish lists and enjoy some treats.
"Santa will be here from 4 to 7," said Ginger Boyd, marketing director for the 18th Street store. "We're going to be giving away free candy canes and hot chocolate, cookies. (And) Union Station Deli will be providing some food."
KNZR will hold a live remote at the store with talk radio host Inga Barks from 3 to 6 p.m. Later, store employee Shawna Fowler and musician Chris Carton will perform an acoustic set of Christmas carols.
And horse-drawn wagon rides will be offered through the downtown arts district courtesy of area businesses.
'Misfit Toys' at Foundry
For its final show, The Foundry embraced the holiday season with its "Island of Misfit Toys" group exhibit. The gallery, founded in 2010, will close by month's end as a result of increased rent.
"My feelings are bittersweet," Foundry owner Christina Sweet said of leaving the downtown arts district. "I'm happy and grateful for the experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
Sweet said the exhibit was inspired by the holiday stop-animation classic "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (coincidentally that premiered on Dec. 6, 1964) that features a visit to the sanctuary for defective and unwanted toys. Artists could choose how they depicted the theme, which Sweet said "leaned more toward misfit."
Participating artists are Donald Myers, Ashleymarie Sey Lively, Jesus Fidel, Alex Ortiz, Rubia Dalbasco van Roodselaar and a collaboration by Crysco Nabisco (aka Chris Hendrickson) and Brynia Harris-Czubko.
Lively created a paper sculpture titled "Nobody Wants a Charlie-in-the-box," depicting the toy by a campfire with fellow residents Dolly and Spotted Elephant.
"I decided to do that particular scene because it is one of my favorites," she wrote of the work. "I love the shapes of the characters and the trees and snow in the scene. It was just too perfect to pass up."
Also on display is "Pieces," a series by Yvonne Cavanagh. A display of 16 studies by Betty Leonor will be exhibited as well, although Sweet did not have further details as of press time.
And although the gallery is closing, Sweet said The Foundry will continue as an artists club online.
Next door to The Foundry, Metro Galleries also has a small display of local work, along with "Old Soul and New Horizon," a series of oil paintings by Pasadena landscape artist Faith Taylor.
The local works center around a call to artists by Californian sister publication Bakersfield Life. For the second year, the magazine sought submissions for the December cover.
Along with the winning submission, "Shining Bright" by Rubia Dalbasco van Roodselaar, 10 other works will be shown, including paintings by Lynn Simmons and Prapat Sirinavarat.
For the main show, Taylor created an eclectic series of 45 landscapes in muted colors.
"The pieces, in my opinion, don't even look like they are from the same artist, but they are," she wrote in her artist's statement. "The abstracts have a mysterious 'layered' look and everyone who views them sees things differently."
Beyond that, Taylor wants viewers to consider her work without further bias, and she invites people to discuss her work and, later, reflect on their own goals.
"I hope that each person takes a moment to focus on what his or her dreams are all about and then take the action necessary to make it happen."
While many shows from the Bakersfield Art Association reflect a variety of styles from a group of artists, it is rare that diversity is presented by one artist.
For "A Little of This and a Little of That" at the BAA Art Center, Jim Bates will do just that in an exhibit of paintings, drawings and giclee prints in watercolors, pencil, gouache and mixed media.
Bates, a Bakersfield native and Fresno State graduate, wrote in his artist statement that he was inspired by the realism of Flemish Renaissance artists.
"My work is mostly realistic and I enjoy the challenge of accurately replicating nature in my paintings. ... (The) artists really have inspired me to focus on realism and accurately portraying my subject matter."
Bates encourages attendees to view "Kern River Vista," a 16-by-48-inch panorama, one of three watercolors he had printed on canvas.
Moving from a panoramic view to the seclusion of city life, Lila Martin takes on "Solitude" for her exhibit at Dagny's Coffee Co.
As she prepared for the show, she said she identified in her paintings a cohesive theme -- "people isolated in groups or in cities."
Martin said this idea of feeling alone even while surrounded by people is particularly relevant this time of year.
"Christmas is one of the holidays where people have unreal expectations of family, warmth and good cheer. The letdown from those impossible expectations sometimes causes depression and even worse.
"The theme of the show -- solitude -- forewarns the casual observer to be wary of many of the season's parties, to understand when the feeling of separateness occurs that this is a very common reaction."
Her collection of 10 oils depict people and cityscapes that evoke the theme.
"'City Dreams' was painted in an attempt to show how ethereal the city looks at night, and how one could get lost in the dark mists, separated from friends and others."
Although it may seem to be dark subject matter, Martin said some work is positive.
"(The painting 'Hope Ahead') shows a very large dark cloud at evening, with a clear yellow space beneath it and a highway leading to that light. Because the title is 'Hope,' I wanted to make people understand that where there is darkness and turmoil there can be hope and peace often ahead."