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Take an art adventure this First Friday

Take a break from your screens and head out to enjoy some art for free this weekend. The Bakersfield Art Association has two new shows, and the Bakersfield Museum of Art is open late.

Those who have wanderlust can take a virtual trip around the world thanks to artist Mark Engelien. His show, "Mark the Spot: Favorite Places," features locales such Rome, Florence and Venice, Italy as well as Greece. 

"This show is called 'Favorite Places,' as I have been creating paintings from my photographs of places I have had the good fortune to have visited," Engelien said in the BAA newsletter.

Having studied drawing, watercolor and ceramics as part of his training to be an architect while attending Cal Poly SLO, Engelien used art as a means of personal expression.

While on a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2000, he first started sketching in ink to create memories of places he visited, noting that a sketch embeds the memory of an experience more indelibly than any photograph.

After he retired, Engelien attended an urban sketching workshop in 2018 in Costa Rica, in which instructor James Richards showed how to enhance ink sketches with the use of watercolor. 

During the shutdown, the artist used his free time to return to watercolors and refine those skills, which he had not used for decades.

Focusing on watercolors, he created the works featured in this new show.

"Favorites Places" is on display at the Bakersfield Art Association, 1607 19th St., as well as on the BAA Facebook page facebook.com/BAAartists.

Also new this month is “Nature’s Colors” by Susan McQuerrey. 

The California native's love of art began while attending Madrid University on a scholarship from New York University. She took a class at the Prado Museum where she studied the paintings of the masters. 

She took up watercolors while home after the birth of her daughter. After retiring as a professor at Bakersfield College, she found more time for art classes.

“The more I learned, the more I wanted to use watercolor,” she said in the BAA newsletter. “The medium allows for so much: representational, fluid, soft, planned or spontaneous approaches."

Watercolor is not a forgiving medium as you are not often able to paint over mistakes. 

She said, “It’s almost always better to chuck than to fix. But starting over on a painting doesn’t (usually) discourage me.”

Her watercolors are on display at Dagny's Coffee Co., 1600 20th St., and on the BAA Facebook page.

Bakersfield Museum of Art

The museum is enjoying its first First Friday back since reopening late last month. Admission is free and it will be open until 8 p.m.

One of the current exhibits is "Black & White: Photographs from the Julie Riegel and Suzette Clerou Collection," which features significant photographic works created over the last century.

Also on view is "Memoirs of Illusion: Selections from the Students in the BMoA Artworks Program" with pieces from 16 high school seniors and juniors, who completed their works while they under the stay-at-home order. 

Some larger works from BMoA’s permanent collection as well as "Marion Osborn Cunningham: Print Maker" will be on display.

Bakersfield Museum of Art is 1930 R St. For more information, visit bmoa.org.

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