Downtown streets will be quiet this Friday but it doesn’t mean all of First Friday is on hold. The Bakersfield Art Association is hosting its two shows for May virtually on social media.

While actual trips to the Kern River are discouraged right now, viewers can enjoy a bit of the natural beauty with Sissy Ullmann's solo exhibition.

Originally planned as a satellite show for the Bakersfield Art Association to be displayed at Dagny's Coffee Co., Ullmann's collection will be shared on the Bakersfield Art Association's Facebook and Instagram pages.

Six of the seven works are oil paintings, with only "The View," depicting a view of the ocean from Pismo Beach, being a pastel work. Of those paintings, all but one ("Bakersfield," of the original landmark sign on Union Avenue) feature scenes of or near the Kern River.

"To be out in nature, so peaceful and serene, I like everything about it," Ullmann said.

Ullmann is passionate about plein air painting, having gone outdoors to paint with Norma Eaton and a BAA group as well as with the Art Shop Club, which prior to the pandemic met weekly to create and collaborate.

Club members have remained in contact, texting and giving each other feedback, inspiring each other to paint.

Her outdoor space is now her backyard, with greenery and pets providing some inspiration: "I have eight cats so I have a lot of subjects to work on."

Ullmann said she "pretty much paints every day," working in the little art studio she has in the back of her husband's shop.

"It's very nice to go back there and create five or six hours a day painting. I love it."

The shelter-in-place order means more time at home, allowing her to focus on creating.

"I have more time. What else is there to do? This is perfect timing for artists. We just create."

That said, she is still looking forward to being able to go out and meet with her art groups in person.

"I can't wait until we get together again. This is just not the norm."

Artist and BAA president Iva Fendrick also is feeling a bit out of sorts: "I'm probably not as motivated, which doesn't make sense."

She's been working on some projects, artistic and domestic, but said she misses leading her weekly watercolor class.

"Teaching my class motivates me a lot," she said. "Figuring out what I am going to show them this week since it's a demo for the first hour. ... Teaching that class, knowing I have these students being there, seeing what I'm going to paint, I feed on their enthusiasm."

Fendrick is happy that her students will still have a chance to share their work with the public. "Wednesdays with Iva," highlighting work by artists from the watercolor class, was intended to go on display at the BAA Art Center but, like Ullmann's show, will go be on display via the BAA's social media.

Students from Fendrick's class are at different experience levels, she said. Some have been part of the class for several years and others only a few months. Artists whose work is included in the show are Kay Hall, Anne Hutton, Caludia, Keith, Betty Jones, Pam Smith, Kathy Hanna, Jane Thornton, Susan McQuerry, Joyce Umfress and Mimi Placencia.

Although the art center is closed to the public, BAA members have been soldiering on, Fendrick said. Those who have space in the gallery have been able to continue paying and many have been participating in pandemic challenges on social media. 

Fendrick said she knows everyone is looking forward to being able to share their work in public. For now, she reminds people that they can still support artists, who are selling their work, before everyone can gather again.

"The gallery has a lot of people to keep it going. This is one of those down (times) but we’re going to bounce back. (For now) we have a social media vision of who we are and where we are."

For more on the association or the shows, visit bakersfieldartassociation.org or on social media at facebook.com/BAAartists or instagram.com/bakersfieldartassociation.

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

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