First Friday returns with some fresh shows and activities to finish out 2017 strong. Here's a look at what to check out downtown Friday.

Those who worry that the arts aren't alive in our schools should look to the Kern High School District. "Art of Tolerance," the student art show opening at Younger Gallery is proof something good is at work.

Over a year in the making, this show takes its inspiration from the work of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. It was developed during workshops and field trips to the museum, the product of many professional-learning community hours and student research.

Fourteen art and graphic design teachers from the district created curriculum that focused on biases, diversity, intolerance and tolerance. Instructors used this as an opportunity to teach that art can be a vehicle for social messaging and assisted young artists in finding their authentic voice.

Thomas Cera, a student from Liberty High, is one of the young artists featured in the show. Of his work, "Political Party," he wrote: "I chose to show the idea that the two opposing political parties are tolerating one another as we'd hope to happen one day. In reality the two sides are so diverse and inflexible that there will always be an intolerable gap between the two."

Participating schools include Bakersfield High, North, Liberty, Stockdale, Foothill, Highland, East, Ridgeview, Golden Valley, Frontier and Centennial.

The reception will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the gallery, 1430 Truxtun Ave.

The Bakersfield Art Association will host a new artist, who paints under the name Voltaine Annon, for its First Friday show.

Her exhibit, "Above and Below," consists of five abstract works inspired by her near-fatal dip in the Kern River. Jumping in at Hart Park with her boyfriend and best friend, two were pushed by the water back to a nearby tree trunk while Annon was swept under.

She wrote in a statement from the show: "When I hit the water I immediately went under, sucked down and thrown into the branches and roots. ... My wrists and ankles got wrapped up in the wooded chaos. It was black and cold. I could feel the sand and debris scratching at my face as it flew by. I tried to break free at first but where could I go? I couldn’t see anything and pulling only made my restraints tighter."

A good Samaritan was able to help free her from the tree and boys were able to pull her from the water. 

She created the works with industrial acrylic paint, using a fluid art technique, layering colors in a container and then pouring it onto the canvas.

The artist said she is excited to display in her first public show. A reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the BAA Art Center, 1607 19th St. 

The Hen's Roost, which runs weekend farmers markets around town and is open for lunch Wednesday through Friday downtown, will stay open later for First Friday. It will host Karaoke for a Cause from 6 to 8 p.m. at its kitchen, 1916 G St., which will also be selling a limited number of hot menu specials.

The event will also help drum up support for the Apple Core Project's Kris Kringle effort, which raises money to combat hunger in Kern County. Each Christmas Eve, the volunteer group hands out blankets, warm clothing, toiletries and meals for those in need at Central Park. Later this month, it will sell blankets, with proceeds from each sale funding a blanket and a meal for a local person in need.

Toni Lott will have a solo show at the BAA gallery space at Dagny's Coffee Co. A painter since high school, Lott has continued to work, adjusting to challenges posed by loss of vision in her right eye. She will have a number of bright, colorful works on display during the reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the coffeehouse, 1600 20th St. 

The evening will also include a look at the group show "Sparkle," featuring work from Marilyn Cameron, Marsha Black, Catherine Malahowski, Martin Varga, Annai Smith, Randall Bergquist and Jim Bates. Canvas Wear founder Cameron Werner will also be at Dagny's with his Creative Session #1 shirts.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.

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