First Friday may be the best-known gathering for art downtown, but the Arts Council of Kern keeps the culture flowing through the month with its own exhibitions. Thursday marks the opening of a new show with work by artist Alex Gallardo (who is known as Alex G) and graphic artist Jesse Moreno.

Gallardo said he has been creating for as long as he can remember. He started with drawing and sketching, later branching out into oil and acrylics as well as the less-conventional airbrushing and tattoo art. 

His work explores both personal and political subjects, reflecting his mood and serving as an outlet for emotional expression.

While working in the Arts-in-Corrections program, which provides rehabilitative arts services in state correctional facilities, Gallardo said he was inspired by the inmates. Through the acrylic painting sessions, the men learned the relaxing benefits of art, a lesson Gallardo is happy to share with anyone.

In his artist's statement for the exhibit, he wrote: “For some, art is a hobby, but it offers much more; when one is living a monotonous existence or at a dire moment in life, this tool can serve many purposes from a pleasurable pastime to a rehabilitation tool.

"Adopt a hobby and apply a form of expressionism to your life, or just to try something new and different; the possibilities are endless and the personal gain is immeasurable!”

Also on display will be work by Jesse Moreno. A regular participant in the First Friday Art Walk, the graphic designer's work is inspired by a mix of reality and his imagination.

For this current display, Moreno focused on animals in a hyper-real environments, with a panda and cat in couture and a bear in an impossible situation. He used color corrections and lighting effects to manipulate stock photos for a new design.

The opening reception will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the council's Access Center Gallery, 1330 Truxtun Ave. The event is free to attend, and refreshments will be served.

'Young Frankenstein'

Just in time for Halloween, The Empty Space unveils its spooky best with the local debut of "The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein." Based on the 1974 Brooks' film, a beloved comedy classic, the musical sticks close to its roots.

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Kyle Gaines), a descendant of the famed mad scientist, is informed he has inherited the estate after reports that his grandfather has died. He heads to Transylvania, meeting Igor, (Perrin Swanson), who urges him to continue his grandfather's experiments with the aid of yodeling lab assistant Inga (Victoria Lusk).

Even those who haven't seen the film can guess he gets into the family business, bringing a monster (Steve Evans) to life. Comedy and chaos ensue in the show that also features Julie Gaines as Frau Blucher, Marti Hoyt as Frankenstein's fiancee Elizabeth Benning, Matthew Borton as Inspector Hans Kemp and director Ron Warren as the late Dr. Victor von Frankenstein.

Kelsey Morrow handled the show's vocal direction and Jennifer Skiby served as choreographer.

"Young Frankenstein" runs 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 4 at The Empty Space, 706 Oak St. Tickets range from $10-$40. Reserve your spot at esonline.org.

Youth workshop

Does your household have a budding young performer? Then you might want to check out the Stars Elite Performing Arts Workshop, which starts Monday at its Stars School of the Performing Arts. (An earlier column mentioned the workshop, which was delayed from its original start date earlier this month.)

The six-week session will be led by actress and singer Amy Adams, who has also served as a performance coach and mentor for students for nearly a decade. Children ages 8 to 18 will enjoy professional stage and entertainment industry training such as mentoring in vocal performance and dancing with working professionals, including Natalia Mallory, a dancer/choreographer and "So You Think You Can Dance" alum. All the training will culminate in a performance showcase.

Running through Nov. 20, the workshop meets Mondays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the school, 2756 Mosasco St.

Tuition is $365, which covers training, performance showcase, headshots, group photo and T-shirt. Tuition must be paid prior to the first day of class. For more enrollment information, visit bmtstars.com/education/starselite.

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

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