What's the hottest First Friday of the year? It's the one featuring Latination, the popular exhibition celebrating Hispanic culture hosted by Metro Galleries. Thankfully, despite the hot ticket, guests should be able to keep cool downtown thanks to this fall weather.

Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries, said his excitement for Fridays festivities is tempered with a bittersweet edge as this is the last one at the current location. (The gallery will move east to 18th Street later this fall.)

"This is the 10th Latination and all 10 of those years have been great here," he wrote in an email. "But it’s not the building or the space that have made them great, it’s the artists, the sponsors, the musicians, the people that make this exhibit great each and every year."

That recipe is in full effect this time with 120 submissions for the popular show. He said what stood out this year was the bright colors among the works as well three-dimensional pieces like Alberto Herrera's mixed media piece "Pajaro Azteco."

Ceramics, sculpture and mosaics are represented alongside a number of paintings.

While there are new contributors, some returning artists brought work that stood out to Martin. He cited Herrera’s sculptures, a painting by Christina Sweet that honors all past winners (and will serve as the exhibit's poster) and Jorge Guillen’s paintings.

"Two are very political," Martin wrote of Guillen's works. "One shows a mother in tears after being separated from her child. And the other is his version of the now iconic photograph of the little girl crying as she’s separated from her parents."

If tradition holds, the reception is as lively as the work. Mento Buru will perform, La Mina will provide appetizers and a no-host bar and awards will be presented in the ceremony with emcee Miranda Whitworth Munoz.

Awards are presented for first and second place, best of show and the Betty Leonor Award, given in honor of the artist whose sensual portraits left an indelible mark on the show. (Leonor passed away at age 44 in 2015 from liver cancer.)

Spooktacular goings-on

Bubble Pop Gallery keeps up the fun with a darker edge started last month with its Villains Art Show with this month's Spooktacular Art Show. Mixed in with the cute characters from Halloween-time tales are Leatherface and Freddy Krueger. 

About 35 artists contributed to the show including curator Ashleymarie Sey Lively, Giki, Crystal Smalls Ord, Amanda Conrad, Jennifer Flynn, Caroline McArthur, Lauryn Barnes, Clark Silva and Mia Roberts. Submissions were so great for the show, Lively was not able to include them all.

The reception will include a live art demo by special effects artist Audrey Davis and cool treats sold by Paleta Company.

After this weekend, the show will move to Temblor Brewing Co. for their Spooktacular Halloween Art Party​ on Oct. 13. 

On Oct. 20, the gallery will debut a third popup location at Silver Wolf Comics and Collectibles, participating in the Halloween Fest​ at the northwest Bakersfield shop.

Photos that pop

Photographer Martin Varga, whose stunning photos have been featured in previous Bakersfield Art Association exhibits, returns to the Art Center this month 

For this show, "Macro Magic," Varga used several new photographic techniques.

Close-up images of a purple dahlia, lemon and kiwi slices and red gerbera daisy appear vibrant with motion even though they are still images.

Varga wrote, "As always, I minimized the use of Photoshop by creating these effects in the studio using a single in camera exposure allowing me to minimize the use of Photoshop for some light adjustments for color and contrast.

"I believe this approach makes my images look more natural and certainly more believable even though a majority of these images are captured at high speed and along with fluidity, which are not easily seen by the human eye."

Even using new techniques, Varga aims to continue growing.

"I also have much more room to expand my artistic techniques for future projects. I am very excited about this as I plan to reach out to different venues including Los Angeles and San Francisco areas."

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

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