When artists love Kern County, the commitment is strong. Rotem Reshef, whose exhibition "Vista" is currently on display at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, returns to town Saturday for an afternoon of art that will also feature the debut of additional work at RAM, the new gallery in Old Town Kern.
The museum and gallery have teamed to provide local art lovers an opportunity to view all the work that Reshef created during her time in Bakersfield last summer including the new exhibition "The Bright Side."
New BMoA curator Victor Gonzales said of "Vista" when it opened in January that Reshef "brought the outside inside" to allow the viewer "to look at the nature from Bakersfield through her eyes."
Reshef's work at the museum — consisting of large-scale scrolls and stretched canvases — immerses the viewer in imagery, with imprints of native flowers, trees and shrubs.
Her inspiration came from viewing the Panorama Vista Preserve, whose lush preserved nature contrasted with the sandy hills leading to the adjacent nearby Kern River Oil Field.
For "Vista," she worked in a temporary local studio, placing plants on the scrolls and canvases then covering them in paint before removing them, leaving only their impression behind.
During her creative process, Reshef was left with additional canvases as well as pigments in a color palette that did not fit what she had created for "Vista."
"The painting for 'Vista' was very well organized and I had the bright paints left without use together with the extra canvases," Reshef wrote in an email. "They were 'calling me for action' in a way, and as I was waiting for the 'Vista' scrolls to dry, I was able to start a new adventure of painting out in the preserve."
Since the pieces that make up "The Bright Side" were not part of her main project, Reshef was able to experiment, engaging in her first plein air painting session in the landscape that had first inspired her.
She wrote, "As my Bakersfield studio was busy with other canvases, I decided to experience a different method of painting and work outdoors, at the Panorama Vista Preserve, where I collected plants for 'Vista.’
"These two scrolls (for 'Bright Side') were not painted for 'Vista,’ yet in a way, they present a different perspective on the local landscape, created by the same artist."
Rachel McCullah Wainwright, who first worked with Reshef in her former role as BMoA curator, also sees "The Bright Side" as a continuation of the artist's vision of her surroundings.
"What excited me about Rotem and her process and this body of work is that it is a reflection of the Central Valley," Wainwright said.
With a visitor's eye, Reshef was able to react to the environment and elements that residents are so used to seeing and to which they may not give much thought.
It's thrilling for "someone to see it as dually intriguing and alarming," Wainwright said.
Wainwright, who left the museum to open RAM with her husband, Henry, said she is looking forward to exhibiting the work, which includes two large scrolls, seven paintings and a video discussing Reshef's process.
She sees all of Reshef's work, with its almost ghostlike imprints of native plants, as "an opportunity for education and an opportunity for celebration of this landscape."
The artist said she has enjoyed the strong response from the community to "Vista," with viewers reacting to "the tonalities of the installation and to the accuracy in depicting the seasonal changes."
"It was heartwarming to receive these reactions, because although the installation is completely abstract, it still gives a strong sense of locality and an essence of the place, which I wanted to bring from the outdoors into the museum," she wrote."
During the museum portion of the afternoon, guests will be able to view the work including a hidden spot.
"The blue scroll at the center of 'Vista' has an inner corner, which got the nickname "the kissing point,' since it is hidden inside the paths dividing the exhibition space," Reshef wrote. "I encourage the visitors to kiss their loved ones, and maybe share on social media."
Attendees can also ask questions of the artist as well as create their own cyanotype, which uses an old photographic printing process that creates a print in a distinctive dark greenish-blue.
Reshef encourages attendees to be adventurous in their creations.
"I love using organic and artificial materials with interesting shapes and textures. My suggestion would be to bring objects with interesting textures, and if they have personal significance, it might add an additional symbolic layer to their final artworks."
The afternoon will continue at RAM with a reception for "The Bright Side" including refreshments from Moo Creamery.
Reshef said she is eager to connect with local art lovers for the day.
"I'm looking forward to 'reuniting' with 'Vista' and experiencing the exhibition at RAM, as I have seen it only through the camera while installing. As always, I enjoy hearing the audience’s thoughts and reactions, both intellectual and emotional, to my work and how it affects them."