Just in time for Halloween, one more costumed fete. But leave your sense of reality at the gate and step into the surreal at the Bakersfield Museum of Art on Thursday. The annual Surrealist Masquerade, in its fourth year, brings an air of mystery, mysticism and mixology to the museum’s Sculpture Garden.

For this year's masquerade, organizers took inspiration from the artists of Mexico City, such as Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo and Kati Horna, who embraced the fantastical art style.

Curator Rachel Magnus said the artistic movement found its second home in Mexico, free from "limiting European traditions" and embracing inclusion, diversity and innovation.

"This geographic transition stimulated an awareness of the indigenous cultures in the new land and the imagery and allegorical symbolism that carried meaning," she wrote. "Many times the displaced artists were allowed to escape from the restrictions of a previous world view and adopt the localized traditions.

"The resulting imagery and concepts were fueled with natural and mystical references and, for the first time in the movement's history, dominated by female artists.”

Masquerade imagery will evoke Mexican mythology, traditions of witchcraft and the spiritual power of nature, as well as visuals inspired by the traditions of Dia de los Muertos.

Additional imagery will be provided by the projected art installation "Sueños de mi abuela" by Omar “El Oms” Juarez. For the project, the Tijuana-born artist took inspiration from the stories of his grandma, Elvira, and La Lechuza, a Mexican urban legend about a witch who took the form of an owl with a woman's head by night to capture misbehaving children who stayed out too late.

(Note: There is no telling what will happen to guests who stay out until the event ends at 11 p.m.)

Attendees are encouraged to find inspiration from the surrealists of Mexico and Europe, Day of the Dead traditions or "take whatever creative liberties they can dream of," wrote Erwin Ledford, the museum's marketing coordinator.

Organizers did note that costumes are not required and guests should come "as festively dressed as they feel inclined."

Setting the mood will be an all-vinyl DJ set from the Chulita Vinyl Club's Bay Area chapter, including former Bakersfield resident Gisele Herrera (aka Pituca). 

Local tiki bar Tiki-Ko returns to Art After Dark, serving a trio of surrealist-inspired cocktails — Cosmic Sol (Coruba dark and Wray and Nephew overproof Jamaican rums, demerara and passion fruit, fresh lemon and orange juices and soda water); Moons of Jupiter (gin, creme de violette, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and soda water); and Sabia Luna (tequila, mezcal, honey, fresh lemon juice, orange curacao and sage). Beer will also be available.

Luvspun Floss will have artisanal cotton candy for sale.

The masquerade is the season closer for the museum's popular Art After Dark series. Sponsored by Moneywise Wealth Management, the gatherings raise funds to benefit the museum as well as its exhibitions and educational programs.

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

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