In the new exhibit "Remembering Past Journeys," Floyd Dillon takes viewers across the United States and off to the Tasman Sea, but there's a locale he'd like to show you closer to home on Friday: the Bakersfield Art Association's Art Center.
"We've been on Eye Street for about three years," Dillon said of the center, which relocated from the East Hills Mall in 2010. "There are still people coming in that say we didn't know you were here."
Although some people have been slow to cotton to the relocation, others have made the center a stop for the monthly gatherings in the downtown arts district.
"We have experienced a good number of people who have come to First Friday at the art center. Of course, we tempt them with food and drink."
Dillon has a vested interest in drawing people to this First Friday, not only as the BAA president but also as featured artist.
"It's a recollection of some of the places I visited and things I found interesting," he said of "Journeys," his exhibit of oil paintings. "Some are in the States, some are in Italy and some are in New Zealand."
The six works include "On Tasman Sea," a collection of five 18-by-24-inch vertical paintings that depict a large seascape. Inspiration for the work came from a fateful day during Dillon's sea trip from Sydney, Australia, to New Zealand's South Island.
"My wife and I cruised around New Zealand, and it was just one of those spectacular days that you don't come across but once in a lifetime. And I just wanted to capture that from the ship."
Serendipity fuels much of the artist's work.
"Paintings that I do are ones that I kind of stumble on. It isn't something that I go out to find, that has to be captured.
That inspiration took hold in the Southwest, which Dillon once called home, with paintings depicting the pueblo-style La Fonda hotel in Santa Fe, N.M., and the imposing Tucson, Ariz., mission of San Xavier del Bac.
"Called the 'white dove of the desert,' it (San Xavier) just sits out there. If you drive up to it, it's just striking. In the early morning light, it says, 'paint me.'"
That piece is a favorite in Dillon's home, such that he had to negotiate to make it part of the show.
"I had to bribe my wife to get that one on the wall. She didn't want to take it out of the house."
Another destination that remains special to Dillon is his home state, featured in "Hawaiian Sunset," capturing a sailboat crossing the waves as the sun lowers into the horizon.
"I was born in Hawaii, I've lived there and taken several trips there. If you're walking on Waikiki Beach, everything just comes together. It's one of those moments that doesn't repeat very often."
Along with creating his work, which has taken center stage since he semi-retired a few years ago, Dillon enjoys discussing it with others.
"It's always rewarding to find someone who has questions or interest in your art, and you can explain the process. Everybody likes to be creative in some fashion."
Along with monthly shows for First Friday, the BAA hosts other exhibits and offers classes for artists of all ages and skills.
"We're trying to expand the classes for children. Some of our members are retired art teachers. They would like to still be able to help children develop their talents."
Students range from kindergartners to middle-schoolers for the beginning classes while some "older young adults" take part in the advanced workshops.
"They have mastered some of the basics and they have control and willingness to participate in a more demanding part of the program."
These younger artists may help the association, founded in 1944, continue to thrive, Dillon said.
"We're always trying to get younger people in the organization. I've been a member the past nine years, since I moved to Bakersfield. A lot of the members are seniors.
"That's how you perpetuate an organization (with young people), get them in supporting."
Also on display
Fellow BAA member Matthew Sheppard will debut his show Friday night at Dagny's Coffee Co.
The North High grad, who now works for the Kern High School District, has made a name for himself artistically, including earning first place in the Kern County Fair art competition with a fusion of pop art and pointillism, according to a BAA news release.
Sheppard developed his technique in junior high, creating portraits using dots of black India ink and a quill pen. Historical and pop culture icons inspire many of his pieces, which incorporate other styles to form distinct works of art.
Metro Galleries continues its display of "Old Soul and New Horizon," a series of oil paintings by Pasadena artist Faith Taylor. The exhibit is an eclectic series of 45 landscapes in muted colors.
Aware that this gathering takes place on the tail end of the holiday break and only three days after New Year's Eve, Dillon knows attendance might be a bit light at the Art Center and downtown in general.
"Sometimes people are recovering from the things that they've done. ... We may not have a big showing at First Friday but we want people to know we'll be there."