Although First Friday is city's the largest downtown gathering for art, the Arts Council has its own packed lineup Thursday with two artists displaying their work at the Access Center Gallery and a book signing by a third artist.

Artist Charlotte White has lived in Bakersfield for 26 years, and for all that time has been a fan of local architecture. Her new exhibit, "Icons and More," pays tribute to local landmarks, some long gone and others that have endured.

Pioneer Mercantile and Farley's Baker Street Florist are just two of the businesses that White captured before they were gone. Other locations she's depicted — which we hope will endure — include Pyrenees French Bakery, Woolworth's, Turk's Kern Copy, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and the Padre Hotel.

The show includes more than 30 works, mostly oil paintings along with some watercolors.

White said, like the old masters, she often creates a watercolor first of her subject, often taking that back to the studio to work from for another piece.

Most of the works are plein air, completed outside the location that serves as the subject. This summer, with its record heat wave, has been especially taxing on White, who stopped painting outside about five weeks ago.

"The last couple of weeks it was 90 degrees at 8 o'clock. I finished the paintings I was working on inside the (Bakersfield Art Association) Art Center, where I'm a member."

The final work she completed outside for the current show was of The Bakersfield Californian's building on Eye Street.

"I worked in the shadow of the parking garage (across the street). I was there every day until 11. Once the sun would get to my toes, I would stop."

White continues to seek inspiration locally, driving around older parts of town to spot interesting buildings. If businesses are operating there, she'll stop in and ask a few questions. 

With her passion for capturing these landmarks, it's no wonder White is a passionate preservationist who believes we should repurpose old buildings for new businesses, like Cafe Smitten, which converted the former home of Boynton Bros. Tire Company on 18th Street.

"I would just love to see us do more with our historic buildings than tear them down," she said.

Along with White's show, artist Adam Thatcher will display his punched tin work, featuring crosses and mirrors with Talavera tiles and tin-framed holy cards.

He takes inspiration from New Mexican tinsmiths past and present as well as a lifetime of exposure to "Southwest, Californian and Catholic art, architecture and natural beauty."

Thatcher starts with large sheets of blank tin that are cut and folded into shape. Hammers and punches, custom-made by a New Mexico artist, are used to create unique designs in the tin. Depending on the piece, a mirror, holy card or imported Talavera tiles are combined with the tinwork for the finished pieces.

"This is a traditional art form with parameters of style, symmetry, squareness, but allows for some creativity that I really like," he wrote in an email.

Essentially self-taught, Thatcher said he's looked to instructional DVDs and YouTube videos from artists in New Mexico who "are passionate about sharing their knowledge."

Originally from Flagstaff, Ariz., Thatcher has lived in California since age 10. He moved to Bakersfield from the Bay Area last year with his wife and two young sons.

The artist has been creating his tin pieces for about eight years and started displaying them at the First Friday Art Walk last November. (He's set up near the intersection of 19th and Eye, near The House Ear Clinic.) You can also view his work at

Thatcher is excited for this gallery display, which he said features his best work to date.

"There are many pieces where I took creative license on traditional styles, but there is a traditional, framed mirror style called 'Francisco Classic' that is a sort of test piece for Spanish Colonial tinsmiths," he said.

"I only attempted it when I reached a skill level where I thought I could succeed. I am proud of that piece."

Author and artist Aliza McCracken will also hold a book signing for her new book "Peaceful Moments: Creative Affirmations for Your Heart and Soul" at the gallery. Along with her paintings, the book includes a number of affirmations embodied in McCracken's contemporary works.

A key affirmation the artist encourages people to live by is “Life is the art of painting with amazing grace. Similar to a beautiful masterpiece, our lives can become a work of art — one moment at a time.”

The reception for the artists runs 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Arts Council of Kern's Access Center Gallery, 1330 Truxtun Ave., Suite B. For more information, call 324-9000 or e-mail

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

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