We don't know if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow Friday — signaling six more weeks of winter — but no matter. In Bakersfield, there will be an early spring awakening downtown for First Friday. The monthly gathering will have a plethora of new options, including a pop-up art gallery at the Fox Theater, plenty of art openings and the return of The Kitchen, bringing back cooking demos and classes.

A brand-new addition to First Friday is Bubble Pop Gallery. The pop-up gallery is located in the Fox Theater building, to the right of the theater entrance. It is the brainchild of local artist Ashleymarie Sey Lively, who has long dreamed of starting a pop-up art space that allowed flexibility for exhibitors and events. 

Having participated in various pop-ups in Southern California, the artist kept an eye out for a similar opportunity in Bakersfield. Observing the crowds at screenings of "The Little Mermaid," "Labyrinth" and other beloved films, she considered the idea of going downtown. 

"I used to do name paintings before certain shows (at the Fox)," she said, "and I noticed that this (space) was open."

After talking it over with her husband, Kevin, she pitched the idea to the Fox. Working with theater manager Matthew Spindler and office manager Jacque Morovich, she started to develop what she needed.

"All they want is to make the Fox space better," she said. 

Linking the shows to the Fox's movie screenings felt like a good way to draw interest and inspire artists.

"We want to enhance the movie-going experience and make it more of an event," Sey Lively said.

With the aid of sponsors Jim Burke Ford Lincoln and Environmental Sound Solutions, the artist brought together the inaugural show.

"We couldn't do it without our sponsors," she said. "It's amazing what you don't realize until you start doing."

The first show, "POP 18," is a mix of art in various mediums celebrating different pop culture fandoms, including Disney, Star Wars, "Stranger Things," "BoJack Horseman," Marvel and DC superheroes and more.

Nineteen artists, a mix of local and those from all over the U.S., will exhibit in this show of 60-plus works. All the pieces are for sale, as are prints of some of the works.

The artist, who attends and works as a vendor at Bakersfield Comic Con and similar conventions, is encouraging guests to attend in cosplay and make an evening of it. 

"I'm excited to see who comes and how people will hopefully find us," she said. "I know it's going to be fun no matter what."

If you can't wait to see what comes next, don't worry because Lively has it planned out. Shows are scheduled for the next three months, themed to upcoming film screenings at the Fox: "The Totally Awesome '80s Show," paying tribute to "Footloose" and other 1980s classics in March; "Who You Gonna Draw?" in honor of the April screening of the original 1984 "Ghostbusters"; and "Flight to Neverland," a Peter Pan-themed show tied to the showing of "Hook" in May.

The gallery, 2007 H St., will be open from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday. It will also open for subsequent First Fridays and an hour before and after related film screenings, Sey Lively said. 

Learn more at bubblepopgallery.com.

It's time to get in The Kitchen. But don't worry; no one is asking you to cook — yet.

The premier teaching kitchen and intimate private dining venue is holding an open house. This grand re-opening is to celebrate its expansion and new ownership under partners Richard Yoshimura, Jeramy Brown and Dr. Hemmal Kothary.

Yoshimura, a chef, will offer cooking demonstrations through the evening for Super Bowl-worthy snacks of black bean dip with chips, sweet and spicy wings and bacon cheddar phyllo cups. Demos will take place on the hour at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., and samples will be available. Attendees can also learn more about upcoming classes and take advantage of a discount if they sign up that night.

The Kitchen is located at 1317 20th St.

Downtown art stalwart the Bakersfield Art Association returns with two new shows. Over at the BAA Art Center is the group show “Portrait & Figure,” featuring pieces from 10 artists. Work of children and adults rendered in pastel, oil, acrylic, watercolor and more will be featured.

Exhibiting artists are Cheri Sperl, Niconor Olmos, Deborah Cooper, Iva Cross Fendrick, Marilyn Cameron, Patti Doolittle, Annai Smith, Toni Lott, Norma Eaton and Phyllis Oliver.

The reception is from 6 to 8 p.m. at the center, 1607 19th St.

Artist Patte Embrey brings a blast from the past for her show, "Vintage Bakersfield," on display at the BAA gallery at Dagny's Coffee Co.

The Bakersfield native, who has been painting for seven years, focused on depicting the city circa 1950s in oil.

Enjoying the research for the show, which included finding local vintage photos, Embrey said she plans to paint more of old Bakersfield. 

The artist reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dagny's, 1600 20th St.

And while the women's march was last month, strong female voices are still felt this month thanks to "RAD Women Invitational," the new show at Younger Gallery. Curator Vicki Smart tapped artists from last year's all-female "Surface and Symbols" show as well as other women for this collection. Works will be featured from a number of Kern High School District art teachers including Smart (Bakersfield), Mary Bradford (North), Linda Hyatt (Stockdale), Linda Brown (Liberty), Gina Herrera (Arvin), Jamee Eaton (Vista Continuation) and Lisa Rudnick (Bakersfield) as well as Deanna Bergen Nelson, Kris DeLano, Leona Guidace and Betty Younger, who also owns the gallery.

Opening reception, which will feature music from Mauro, will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the gallery, 1430 Truxtun Ave.

And speaking of sisters doing it for themselves, Bike Bakersfield is hosting another Grease & Gears for Girls bike maintenance workshop nearby.

The workshop is welcome to women and men alike who want to learn basic bike maintenance skills. The session will focus on three areas: fixing a flat and bike cleaning; adjusting brakes and shifting; truing (straightening) wheels and adjusting bearings.

Bring your bike or work on one from the group. Or just watch and learn, while enjoying light appetizers and wine (for those 21 and over, with ID). The workshop will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bike Bakersfield, 1708 Chester Ave.

Those bolstered by bike repair can grab a mic and belt out a few tunes for First Friday karaoke at The Hen's Roost. As the business's colorful crew proves during the week, they won't leave you hanging solo on any song. The fun runs from 5 to 7 p.m. at 1916 G St.

Locale Farm to Table will host a Craft Night, allowing guests to make greeting cards. The cost is $18 in advance or $20 at the door. Drinks and appetizers will be available for purchase at the event, running from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the eatery, 1723 18th St. Call 322-9090 for more information.

If you rather grab a quick bite than sit down too long for dinner, the American Legion Post 26 (2020 H St.) has you covered. It's offering an easy meal of a tri-tip sandwich, chips and a soda for only $8. The canteen opens at 5:30 p.m. for any early drinks and the spot stays open until 9. 

Don't miss your chance to check out the Bakersfield Museum of Art's new winter exhibition. The facility (1930 R St.) is offering free admission until 8 p.m. On display are: 

"Historic Posters from the Collection of Citizens Business Bank 1875 to 1950," "Mark Adams: Works on Paper," "LINE: Selections from the BMoA Permanent Collection" and the stunning continuing exhibition "Astrid Preston: Poetics of Nature."

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

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