The streets of Bakersfield displayed through vibrant works of art, the Bakersfield Sound memorialized through costumes and song, and paintings expressing emotion and the human spirit are just a few elements visitors will experience at the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s latest showcases.

After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BMoA is open to the community once again with three exhibits: “The Bakersfield Sound: Roll Out the Red Carpet,” “Color + Figure, paintings by Linda Christensen” and “Uncommon Perspective, paintings by Art Sherwyn.”

The exhibits opened in February; however, the museum was not open to the public.

“Two of the four shows now were scheduled to open at that time slot, but the Bakersfield Sound we had to keep pushing back, because we knew we wanted to make sure it was opened to the public,” said Rachel Magnus, BMoA curator.

“Once we reopened, the way these three shows play together, I think, is really interesting and really representative of what this museum has established for our last 60-plus-year history. It celebrates something that is bound to our history and so much a part of the identity of Bakersfield. ... If we can embolden the future of Bakersfield residents with that knowledge, it will be so powerful in creating a more positive self-perception,” Magnus added

The Bakersfield Sound exhibit encapsulates the rich music history represented by the likes of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Performance attire, guitars and other memorabilia are on display. It tells the story, not only of how it started, but how it left an imprint on the genre of country music. It’s a must-visit for any country music fan.

As Linda Christensen’s first solo museum gallery, she draws from human emotion and experience, featuring women and many domestic scenes. Magnus calls Christensen a "master at color."

“I hope it stirs something in them emotionally,” Christensen said of her work, and that they will find “a spot within themselves they don’t recognize." 

Part of her technique is painting large. Christensen noted Georgia O’Keefe did that with her flowers in paintings, so it’s similar to that.

It’s “so exciting and we’re lucky to have her,” Magnus said of Christensen’s exhibit.

Lastly, the paintings of recognizable landmarks and streets of Bakersfield by Art Sherwyn are told in a larger-than-life way with bright colors that draw you into the experience to see life from Sherwyn’s perspective.

“In art, there’s this nostalgia — we’ve walked these streets, we’ve seen these buildings. ... The patterning shakes you out of that patterning and the emotion,” added Magnus of the art.

What does Magnus hope people take away from this gallery?

“The same thing that I’d hope for any exhibit. The power of the arts is really about taking you out of your every day and allowing you to see the world or see and experience from another person’s point of view,” said Magnus.

Which is exactly what these galleries do for visitors.

“Just the fact that we haven’t been able to be in shared, public spaces for so long and then the realization that the arts have this incredible power to articulate things that word cannot,” said Magnus.

“We consider ourselves caretakers of the extraordinary artwork that we're able to display at BMoA. These pieces truly come alive when people can experience them in person. Now that we're open to the public again, we're excited to share those experiences with our community.”

These galleries will remain open until Aug. 28. To view the current exhibits and more, visit BMoA’s website at bmoa.org.