The pandemic may still keep local museums closed but it won’t stop art lovers. For its winter exhibitions, the Bakersfield Museum of Art will open them with its first-ever online premiere.
Sticking to the traditional exhibition launch time of 7 p.m., the museum will direct people not to its physical location on Thursday but rather its website, which will host a 3D presentation of its three new shows: "The Bakersfield Sound: Roll Out the Red Carpet," "Color + Figure: Paintings by Linda Christensen" and "Uncommon Perspective: Paintings by Art Sherwyn."
Curator Rachel Magnus said the museum partnered with Artland, an online platform that creates 3D gallery experiences, to bring the project together.
"You get into the gallery space and click your way through the exhibit," she said.
For each artwork or piece, there will be a circle that can be selected, which will pull up the didactic with the information you would see on a wall tag in the gallery.
Additionally there will be a brief promotional video, made with local company InMotionPro, that will serve as an introduction to the experience.
Museum supporters already had a bit of a preview in August when Magnus recorded a special episode of the "Hello Bakersfield" podcast highlighting the Bakersfield Sound exhibit and musical legacy.
Among the guests were Jim Shaw, longtime keyboardist for the Buckaroos and Buck Owens' right-hand man who is now director of the Buck Owens Private Foundation, and journalist Robert Price, whose book "The Bakersfield Sound: How a Generation of Displaced Okies Revolutionized American Music," helped shape the museum's exhibit.
"We used his book as the way to organize the exposition," Magnus said. "We were not focused on telling the whole history of the Bakersfield Sound."
Laid out in seven categories, the exhibit celebrates the aesthetic history of the Bakersfield Sound with more than 150 costumes (including suits and performance wear designed by Nudie Cohn and Nathan Turk), guitars, photographs, album covers and other artifacts. Some objects are on loan from Buck Owens' Crystal Palace and the Kern County Museum while several others are from private collections on public display for the first time.
That includes a segment of the bar from the Blackboard Cafe, which had been found in the basement in an Oleander home and the bench that was once outside Trout's Nightclub.
Along with the musical founding fathers, including Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, the exhibit pays tribute to the myriad other musicians and loyal supporters who helped it thrive in the town's numerous honky-tonks.
Magnus said, "For people working all day in the fields, it was a release, to encourage people to dance."
Also paying tribute to the spirit of Bakersfield is the new collection from Art Sherywn that provides a fresh perspective on home.
Magnus said the work came from the former art educator and mentor's effort to document Bakersfield city streets after being inspired by the revitalization happening in our urban core.
"He wanted to know 'why these “young people” were getting excited about downtown Bakersfield' so he drove around sketching," Magnus said.
To capture the energy of these landscapes, Sherwyn broke formal elements such as perspective and geometry to create these vibrant works.
In his artist statement, Sherwyn wrote that the vivid colors in these pieces match the spirit of a growing city full of vitality.
"Architecture by nature possesses a diverse interplay of lines, shapes, patterns, and spaces," he wrote. "I intended to use those elements to add interest and intrigue to my story by manipulating them into small abstract compositions and integrating them into the arrangement of the whole."
While Sherwyn uses bold colors to convey his subjects, fellow artist Linda Christensen uses harmonious color palettes and large-scale works to delve into human nature.
This is the first museum solo exhibition for Christensen, whose pieces have been featured in a number of group shows at BMoA. In the vein of the Bay Area Figurative Movement's founding artist, she depicts women in domestic and contemplative scenes.
"She is truly a colorist but more than that she has a desire to capture humanity and in a very honest way," Magnus said.
The curator said there is a dynamic energy to Christensen's large canvases, reflective of the artist's desire to completely throw herself on the canvas.
"There is a very abstract colorful underpainting because painting is so emotional for her — she describes it as to 'put butter on toast' to start a painting — and it finds a way through to the finished composition."
The 3D exhibition tour of all three exhibitions will go live at 7 p.m. Thursday at bmoa.org. It is free to view and will remain available until Aug. 28.
Additional programming, including episodes of the museum's own podcast with Magnus and co-host David Anderson of the "Moneywise Guys" radio show, will offer further insight into the collections. And the museum is ready for in-person viewing once it is allowed by state and local guidelines.