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Lotz of love for local arts scene with new mural

Vehicle consignment and public art don’t seem like a natural pairing but don’t tell that to CarLotz, which just opened its Bakersfield hub with a beautiful new mural on the side of its building.

The new artwork, created by local artists Beth Chaney and Jennifer Williams-Cordova, was celebrated on Wednesday during a ribbon-cutting event that also welcomed the national consignment-to-retail used vehicle business to Bakersfield.

This mural is part of CarLotz's initiative to commission community art at its locations around the country, starting with the new hub in Bakersfield.

"We are excited to announce this community installation under the #lotzoflove initiative," Michael Chapman, chief marketing officer of CarLotz, said in a news release. "My hope is that we are able to create a tapestry of art showcasing the beautiful and diverse communities CarLotz serves, and that guests will always feel good when they spend time with us."

Women made the local project happen, starting with CarLotz's art coordinator, Stevie Lord of Tennessee-based Art for The Home, which helps match artists to residential and commercial projects.

"She was researching local artists, and looking for someone who would be a good fit," Williams-Cordova wrote in an email.

Williams-Cordova, a graphic designer and illustrator for the "Indy, Oh Indy" book series, said she loved that the company wanted to invest in local artists and contribute to Bakersfield's art scene.

Chaney, an artist and art instructor at West High School, echoed her collaborator's passion for the project, writing, "When they said they wanted a 'community-minded mural' I was in! I believe in the power of art bringing a community together and I was also so excited to get to work with Jen again too!"

Tasked with developing a concept that was inspiring, uplifting and unique to the city, the pair went for a classic choice: the streets of Bakersfield.

Inspired by the Homer Joy song that was popularized by Buck Owens, Williams-Cordova and Chaney worked on a design about walking these local streets. 

"We knew it should reflect the diversity and uniqueness of the people who live here," Williams-Cordova wrote. "The mural depicts 16 different sets of legs walking along a street with an abstract landscape behind them, including that golden Bakersfield sun!

"And connecting it all, a bright ribbon weaves in and out of the figures. Flowing through them like music, and representing the idea that even as we are all individually unique, we're also still very much connected."

Chaney said they knew they wanted the imagery to be inclusive and diverse: "We wanted to show all different types of people within our community. The design is simple and straightforward but it's still so open for people to connect with."

Pairs of legs run the length of the 112-foot-by-19-foot mural, clad in cowboy boots, pointe shoes, heels, flip-flops, tennis shoes and more as well as someone moving along in a wheelchair.

The artists wanted viewers to be able to identify with the imagery while also leaving it open to interpretation, Williams-Cordova said.

"Perhaps they see themselves, their friends, family and neighbors among the walking legs," she wrote. "It might just be legs, half a person, but you can’t help your mind fill in the figures with your own experiences."

All of the painting — more than 100 hours — took place over seven days, using 26 gallons of primer and 19 gallons of paint for the colorful design.

The pair took breaks to avoid the midday heat and Chaney said the weather was a definite challenge.

"It was not glamorous but we made it work and the break from the afternoon heat was really a good plan," she wrote.

Chapman said the duo did "an extraordinary job of tapping into the city’s unique sense of pride" to create a mural that feels "welcoming, bold and bright."

He said in the release, "We hope this mural is a symbol to the community, they are always welcome and proof that we are thrilled to be a part of Bakersfield!

"People often ask us who the typical CarLotz guest is, and our answer is straightforward — they all have drivers' licenses — it's for everyone. We view this mural the same way — it's a terrific depiction of the breadth of guests whom we have the privilege of serving every day.”

Beyond this new mural, both artists are passionate about fostering creativity throughout the community.

Chaney has worked on temporary pieces for mural alley outside Locale Farm to Table, exhibited her work at the Bakersfield Museum of Art and is an active participant in the Via Arte Italian Street Painting Festival.

"Art is just so important and I am honored every time to participate in bringing more art to our community," Chaney wrote.

Williams-Cordova has other murals up around town — including pizza angel wings at Jerry’s Pizza, a rainbow peacock outside the KGET-TV studios and three at Adventist Health Bakersfield (one inside the pediatric unit and two exterior pieces) — with even more in the works.

"Public art is transformative," she wrote. "We can never have too much art in public spaces. It creates a sense of place, and a connection to our community. The more art, the more heart!"

View the new mural at CarLotz (in the Auto Mall) at 4608 Rudnick Court.

For more on the artists' work, visit their Instagram pages (@jenwillco and @bethchaneyartworks).

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

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