Capturing a California night on a canvas seems near impossible.

Nights in the Golden State have an atmosphere unlike anywhere else. The inescapable shadows of the desert or the countless cars lighting up the road home, nighttime in California has character. The brave artists who have attempted to emulate that mood are having their moment in the spotlight this Thursday at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

For its first Art After Dark of 2020, the museum will explore those magical California nights with artwork, music and cocktails. The night takes attendees through an exploration of light and dark

The "One Night in California: Contemporary Nocturnes" exhibition highlights 34 pieces by 25 contemporary California-based artists, said Lauren Marty, the museum's new marketing manager. The show includes paintings, sculptures and more. All of these mediums have one thing in common — exploring the Golden State at nighttime.

Guests can join in on the fun with the collaborative "One Song in California" installation that uses light and sound to enhance the nighttime experience. Inspiring artists can create their own masterpiece with a night-themed scratchboard artwork. By scratching away the top layer to reveal the shiny surface beneath, attendees will learn the importance and challenge of highlights and shadows.

Moo Creamery will offer nocturne-themed cocktails, beers and nonalcoholic drinks for purchase. A Fire in the Desert is a mixture of Herradura reposado, spiced pear liqueur, Bozal mezcal, with fresh lime, ginger syrup and garnished with cracked black pepper. The Sleeping Under Velvet is iced coffee with St. George coffee liqueur, Five Farms Irish cream liqueur, hot chocolate and Tito's Vodka. The appropriately named Highway Patrol is the nonalcoholic option of a fresh lemonade with basil syrup. Beers include Modelo Especial and KRBC Just Outstanding IPA.

The event's musical lineup is as bright as the night's stars with DJs Alex Sarad, Tommy and Leah, and Aj and Nico from The Soul Chance. 

This is the fifth year for the Art After Dark series, which started as an effort to bring a younger demographic to the museum, according to curator Rachel Magnus. The after-hours art experience is held on the last Thursday of the month February through October, and usually has more than 200 people attend, she said.

"I think that this event has shifted opinions on the museum," Magnus said. "It challenges big topics. I think it's solidified the importance of a museum in a community."

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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