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courtesy of Jennifer Shrader

"Latino Highway" by Jennifer Shrader from her exhibit "Celebrating the Colors of Mexico," opening Friday at the Bakersfield Art Association Art Center.

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courtesy of Jennifer Shrader

"Day of the Dead" by Jennifer Shrader from her exhibit "Celebrating the Colors of Mexico," opening Friday at the Bakersfield Art Association Art Center.

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courtesy of Jennifer Shrader

"Zapata" by Jennifer Shrader from her exhibit "Celebrating the Colors of Mexico," opening Friday at the Bakersfield Art Association Art Center.

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courtesy of Bakersfield College

Betty Younger's "Circle of Friends" will be dedicated Thursday afternoon at 4 at Bakersfield College.

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courtesy of Fiddlers Crossing

Singer-songwriter Chuck Pyle will perform Friday at Fiddlers Crossing in Tehachapi.

With Cinco de Mayo only a few days away, Jennifer Shrader is previewing the celebrated day in Mexican history with artwork featuring bold colors and imaginary designs with an Aztecan flavor.

"Latino art is just one of the many projects that stretch me as an artist," Shrader said. "My inspiration is the incredible combinations of the bright, glittering colors of their holidays, celebrations and everyday life."

Her exhibit, "Celebrating the Colors of Mexico" opens Friday with a reception at the Art Center, which includes finger foods and a brief performance by a group of young dancers in costume.

In a sense, the artist's show is a family affair.

"My husband makes some of the frames I use, which are very rustic and made from pieces of old and antique wood," she said. "When Patti Doolittle, a fellow artist whom I admire, wanted to know where I got them, because she loved them, I knew I had hit home."

A Bakersfield native, Shrader is a latecomer to the world of fine art and began painting only six years ago.

"I never imagined myself becoming an artist," she said. "I never was schooled in the arts and I feel fortunate now to create something on canvas."

In 2010 she won the Beautiful Bakersfield award for a calendar she did depicting her Bakersfield High School days in the 1950s.

Shrader's exhibit can be seen through May 30 during the Art Center's usual hours, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Bell ringers

A touring ensemble of 19 young hand-bell ringers will perform Thursday evening at the first Congregational Church.

"They're an extremely talented group of high school students who attend a special academy for the performing arts in Las Vegas," said Jenell Mahoney. "They're on their spring break."

And if Mahoney says they're good, I believe her. I've seen -- and heard -- her in action as the director of the Rhapsody Ringers, a local group of hand-bell ringers, and they are excellent.

Marshall Townsend is the director of the Las Vegas ensemble. They will play sacred and secular music using five octaves of bells and hand chimes.

The academy is a magnet school in the Clark County School District. Students who participate in the hand-bell program major in other areas of music and language, including band, choir, orchestra, mariachi, Japanese, French and jazz band. After their performance here, the ensemble will travel to Southern California for a hand-bell clinic at Azusa Pacific University; give a performance at Christ Lutheran Church in West Covina, and will play at the Music in the Parks competition and festival at Six Flags before returning to Las Vegas.

Deaf students' artwork

A one-time only exhibit of artwork done by students in deaf and hard-of-hearing programs at four schools can be seen Thursday at the Art Center.

"Art is such a universal language that I could show them a tool and they could follow what I was doing," said their instructor, Iva Fendrick. "And there was always a teacher or an aide who translated for me."

For this particular show, all of the students were given a 5-by-5-inch clay tile, which had been rolled out and prepped in advance by Charlotte White's students at Valley Oaks Charter School.

All of the deaf and hard-of-hearing students did drawings ahead of time, which they referred to in creating the designs on the tiles.

"The tiles were moist enough that they could carve into the tile if they wanted to," Fendrick said. "They did a variety of designs depending on what they are studying -- some of them had been to Camp Keep on the coast recently so they did some pertaining to the sea."

Schools participating in the program are Eissler Elementary, Van Horn Elementary, Actis Junior High and the Richardson Center.

Public art

An outdoor sculpture called "Circle of Friends" will be dedicated Thursday afternoon on the campus of Bakersfield College. Betty Younger created the sculpture, which is made up of four upright figures, to honor James Young, who served as chancellor of the Kern Community College District from 1978 to 1999.

"What inspired me to call it 'Circle of Friends' is what Jim Young has done with and for students, educators, individuals and friends for over 20 years," Younger said. "He is truly a friend and mentor to all he meets."

A reception will be held in the foyer of the Grace Van Dyke Bird Library following the brief ceremony.

Guitarist Chuck Pyle

Deborah Hand and Peter Cutler, owners of Fiddlers Crossing, are featuring singer-songwriter Chuck Pyle on Friday.

In describing Pyle's style, they quoted Juni Fisher, the "Cowgirl Balladeer," who has performed at the coffeehouse in Tehachapi.

"Chuck Pyle paints the vistas of the West -- heck, the whole country, through his smart, snappy, cool lyrics," Fisher said. "He's been one of my heroes for a long time."

A self-taught acoustic guitarist, Pyle is best known for writing "Cadillac Cowboy," recorded by Chris LeDoux, and "Jaded Lover," recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker.

Also admired as a sly humorist with a Will Rogers-style wit, Pyle has performed for the Colorado Legislature, on the "Austin City Limits" show and in the home of Bill and Melinda Gates, according to the venue's owners.

Tickets may be purchased online by visiting the Fiddlerscrossing.org website.