Ashleymarie Sey Lively

Bubble Pop Gallery founder and curator Ashleymarie Sey Lively stands in front of the “Sidekicks & Henchmen” exhibit before its opening during First Friday on Sept. 6. 

Ashleymarie Sey Lively, the curator and founder of Bubble Pop Gallery, wants you to know that the Bakersfield art scene is not just alive and well, but thriving.

According to Lively, Bakersfield’s flourishing art community is nothing new. Bakersfield has always had a vibrant art scene that is just as big and popular as larger cities like Los Angeles.

She said the audience for art has always existed here, but it was just a matter of letting them know where to find it.

Since the inception of ArtWalk presented by the Arts Council of Kern during First Friday, finding a large variety of art in one place has never been easier. On the first Friday of every month, people can visit downtown Bakersfield to find a collection of art from different artists and vendors.

Bubble Pop Gallery has participated in the event since Lively opened the gallery in December 2017. The gallery has proved that viewing art is not a niche activity and can be enjoyed by everyone. On previous occasions, in the four hours that it is open, the gallery has hosted thousands of people in a single night.

According to Lively, art flourishes here because it is abundant. Gallery space in Bakersfield is plentiful when compared to other cities and has the space to showcase a wide range of artists and their art. She says that cities like Pomona, which has a great art scene, only open up a small section of a wall to display art pieces. Bubble Pop Gallery, on the contrary, has displayed more than 80 pieces of art at one time.

Bakersfield gives artists opportunities that they may not find anywhere else.

Artists featured in Bubble Pop are handpicked by Lively and vary in age and experience. Since she hopes to give people with a passion for art a chance to showcase their work, there is no fee to apply to be featured in the gallery. She wants to set herself apart from other galleries and emphasize community over competition.

Lively’s goal in opening the gallery was to bring a fun and unique experience to her hometown. Each month, she creates a new exhibition centered around a pop culture theme, free of charge.

The themes make the event fun, but it also makes art more accessible and relatable. Anyone can walk in and find a piece they like and understand.

The gallery features all types of art including oil, ink, digital and colored-pencil paintings. Sculptures have also been included in the past.

In addition to the art pieces displayed along the walls of the gallery, there are also live artist shows. This allows spectators to witness an artists’ creative process from start to finish, something Lively describes as “magic in front of your eyes.”

While many believe the arts are diminishing in the age of technology, Lively believes that there is a rise in interest and knowledge about art and hopes that the stereotype of the starving artist doesn’t discourage people from going after their dreams. She says there is always going to be a need in the community, and if artists can use their skillset to meet that need, then they can continue to do what they love and bring happiness to people.

“Utilize your skills, no matter what they are, and adjust yourself as an artist,” she said. 

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