Along with the bread baking and TikTok challenges, this pandemic has fueled some real creativity. With an eye on supporting local creatives at a difficult time, The Hub of Bakersfield chose 13 projects to help fund through its Cash for the Arts grant program.
This month, the fruits of those labors have been unveiled, running the gamut from murals and music to floral arranging and other hands-on creative endeavors. Approved for funds at the beginning of May, each recipient has either completed their project or are in the final stages.
"I’m proud of all the artists for honoring the agreement," said Andrae Gonzales, chairman of The Hub's board. "They put a lot of effort and a lot of heart into the projects. I hope the broader community appreciates it."
Gonzales said he was especially taken with the pair of murals in east Bakersfield designed by the artist who creates under the handle Createasea.
"One is of an astronaut wearing a pink spacesuit and blue helmet," he said. "In the artist’s mind it’s equality for all, men and women, as humans pursue their dreams and goals."
He said the work is reflective of ongoing community outreach.
"The message was really powerful. ... We encourage young people to reach for the stars, pursue their dreams and goals. This great piece symbolizes a lot of work we’re doing on the east side now."
He was also excited about the Bakersfield Legacy coloring book by teen artist Dani Richert featuring Bakersfield landmarks. (The coloring book as well as the hand-lettering book by Britny Boos can be downloaded at thehubofbakersfield.com.)
Local points of interest will also be featured in a video from the "Indy, Oh Indy" team, which creatively expanded its locally themed book series.
Gonzales said it was tough for the board to narrow down the list and credits committee chairs Miranda Whitworth and Shannon LaBare for their oversight.
And those creatives not selected can take heart: There may be more grants on the way.
"The success of this project has started a discussion among board members about continuing it," Gonzales said. "Making this a regular grant program and not just a one-time event."
For more information on The Hub, this program and the latest on the grant projects, visit thehubofbakersfield.org/news.
Here's a look at what the 13 local artists have shared with the community.
Juliana Gonzalez, murals in east Bakersfield
Artist Juliana Gonzalez, who creates under the handle Createasea, wanting to bring murals to east Bakersfield, where she grew up.
"The east side can be known for great things, other than the usual negative connotations it has," she wrote in an email. "I wanted to bring art to our walls and color to brighten up our neighborhood, especially for the kids growing up on our streets."
Her subjects were inspired by her surroundings. "Flower Bubble," of a girl blowing flower-shaped creations, was an homage to the 2020 grads who won't have conventional ceremonies. "Echo the Astronaut," clad in a spacesuit with gendered colors of blue and pink was created as "a symbol of hope and unity," Gonzalez said.
The murals are up at 1039 Niles St.
Acknowledging the grant helped jump-start her dream of creating art in town, the artist said she's eager to keep going.
"I plan on creating more art for Bakersfield, I definitely want to help others be inspired to add to the beauty that is Bakersfield. I love my city and I definitely want to see others add more to it. It would be amazing to see people travel from around the world just to see the art that’s been done here."
Dani Richert, Bakersfield Legacy Coloring Book
The youngest grant recipient is Centennial High School junior Dani Richert. But before this coloring book, she was already creating, having turned her passion for designing custom greeting cards into a business, D.I.Y. Dani, last summer.
The project of coloring pages filled with puzzles and games came to her a she brainstormed what brings us together with our rich community and legacy.
"I really wanted my coloring pages to honor our lovely city and hit every aspect of what makes Bakersfield so great — from our architecture to our people to everything in between."
Richert said she'd love if people use this project to take a much-needed break from everyday stresses.
"During this time of isolation, I know that many people are struggling with their mental health. Even if it’s for 30 minutes, I hope my coloring pages allow individuals to take a break from whatever they're doing and just relax. There’s just something very therapeutic about putting a pencil to paper that I hope other people can experience for themselves through this experience."
'Indy, Oh Indy' team, 'Wanderin' Tour'
The creative force behind the "Indy, Oh Indy" book series is small but mighty. With scheduled readings of their locally themed children's books canceled, they turned inward.
Jennifer Williams Cordova, the book's illustrator, designed a downloadable socially distant tour sheet, inspired by super fans at Suburu Elementary, which took children on a field trip to visit Dewar's and other places visited by canine heroine Indy in the books.
Author Teresa Adamo wrote in an email, "Jen and I had talked about another coloring sheet that would show Indy’s wanderings and serve as a guide that people could take like Suburu did – I’ve even toyed with the idea of perhaps an Indy, Oh Indy coloring book. Then, it just morphed into kind of an 'I Spy' piece that we thought could make a nice way for families to take a social-distanced tour around Bako during this time. It’s not a map, per se, but it does show some of the places mentioned in the book. And you can color it!"
Grant funds also helped with a book reading today and illustrator workshop on Friday presented via Instagram IGTV as well as a Wanderin' Tour video out Sunday on IGTV taking viewers to some of the iconic places featured in "Indy, Oh Indy: Wanderin’ the Streets of Bakersfield."
Adamo said the video was a family affair with son Zane, who was temporarily living at home, as director and cinematographer, husband Felix as gaffer/consultant and son Cooper on animal wrangling duty,
"Look for the white paw print stickers in the windows of participating retailers. That’s our 'Indy, Oh Indy' version of 'I Spy' and a fun way to let people know that’s a location where they can find our books, too. We would love for our Indy Pack to take selfies next to those stickers and tag us, so we know they’re out there doing their own wanderin’ tour."
Jocelyn Dimaya, take-home sewing projects
While some grant projects were about art you could view, Jocelyn Dimaya pitched something more hands on. The sewing instructor, who normally holds classes for all ages, wanted to offer something that people could do while stuck at home.
"When the pandemic started, I had to think creatively about how I was going to connect and create with my sewing students," she wrote in an email. "I also knew that while kids are out of school, parents are looking into distance learning and other enrichment opportunities. I wanted kids to be able to learn and create while staying safe. That’s why I started making take-home sewing kits."
There are six felt design kits ($30 for two designs) — a llama, doughnut, flower, rainbow, knight and dragon — available at thestudiobakersfield.com to order. Deadline for the next batch out Saturday is noon Friday.
"The project kits come with all the materials needed to make a felt stuffie project. Once you get your kit, you can watch the video tutorial and follow along. You can find tutorials at thestudiobakersfield.com where you will also see some of our other creative offerings."
Along with helping to inspire others, the funds from The Hub helped keep the creative on track during a tough time.
"Honestly, this pandemic has really seemed to stifle a lot of my creativity. Receiving this grant was a huge encouragement and motivator. I hope to keep creating sewing projects, block printed work, and paintings for others as well as myself."
Dacey Dia Villareal, Exquisite Corpses
Artist and educator Dacey Dia Villarreal used her grant to help fellow artists through Art Brut 27, her new online art gallery developed to showcase and promote art and artists.
Funds were used for the game Exquisite Corpses, inspired by a Surrealist art exercise. Artists produced a figure that would later be cut up into three sections and reassembled to create a new figure. The public voted online for their favorite reconstructed figure, with
the top image receiving a $300 prize ($100 for each participating artist) and runner-up receiving $150 ($50 each).
"There were 12 participants from all over the world (Bakersfield, Ohio, Wisconsin and France)," Villareal wrote in an email. "The event was seen by well over 9,000 people on social media, so it was a great quarantined event."
Villareal said she plans to feature artists from around the world on Art Brut 27's Instagram, Facebook, and its website. Anyone interested in being featured in 2021 or beyond (it's booked through the end of the year) can contact Art Brut 27 at www.artbrut27.com. She is also planning more online art exhibits and contests.
"That way we can reach and help artists while having a little fun," she wrote."
Britny Boos, lettering workbook
Britny Boos, who has been offering hand-lettering workshops since 2017 with her business BNB Creative, hit a stumbling block when the pandemic forced her to cancel planned workshops.
Getting creative, she pivoted and pitched a project for a cursive writing and calligraphy workbook that individuals can download.
"It's been a hobby of mine for five years now and sharing all that I have learned about lettering and how to apply it to different mediums with various tools and techniques has turned into a passion for me," she wrote in an email. "I love teaching and although my plans for teaching in-person workshops have halted, I thought this was a great way to provide a learning experience to Bakersfield at no cost to them with supplies they already have at home."
Boos hopes the easy-to-follow workbook on the foundational steps of lettering through creating will pique the community's interest in the craft — and her teaching.
"I hope this inspires Bakersfieldians to continue to letter, work on their forms, try new tools, and take a class with me in the future!"
Jorge Guillen, downtown mural
Accomplished local artist Jorge Guillen joined forces with Brandon Thompson with a shared vision for a mural being completed outside Martin's Meats downtown.
"Our styles contrast enough to stand out together," Guillen wrote in an email. "It's like 'Pleasantville' meets visual violence."
The design harkens back to other public pieces Guillen has created.
"The best way to describe the mural is a play on previous work that I did at the Camping World West Coast distribution center off of Merle Haggard. My time there allowed me to create on a larger scale. They are also a direct reference to the Mayan/Azteca flowers I painted at the Panorama Bluffs Phase: II Project. The theme for the sky references the Arvin wildflowers that no longer exist. It's an homage to Chente (Vincent) Van Gogh and 'The Starry Night.'"
Guillen credits shop co-owner Audrey Chavez for offering the space on the wall, and he hopes to continue creating downtown if he can find other willing partners and business owners.
The artist looks forward to people coming out next week to see the finished work.
"There is a little bit of everything on that wall for everyone. References to Bansky, the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, Van Gogh, 'Pleasantville' even Tupac Shakur. This is public art for the streets but the people complete (it)."
Creative Crossing, a group of artists bringing murals to the Oleander neighborhood, was active even before the pandemic. But The Hub grant has allowed the artists to continue their work, providing supplies for the latest mural "Meeting in Contentment."
Created by four of the group's artists — Sarah Nobles, Tara Neri, Kei Deragon and Chris Perez — the piece is on display in the alley between Oleander and Holtby at Verde Street.
It took about a week for the four to complete the work.
Creative Crossing co-founder Sarah Nobles said there are 15 more murals in the works including partnerships with Community Action Partnership of Kern and Uncommon Bold for Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Yvonne Cavanagh, #FlowerShareKern
Ceramic artist, painter and Bakersfield High School art instructor Yvonne Cavanagh decided to try her hand at yet another skill — flower arranging — during this pandemic.
“I find that I feel mentally at my best right now when I am creating art," she told The Hub of Bakersfield. "It calms my mind, so I just keep making things. Everyone can benefit from the act of creating with your hands to still your mind. And how beautiful will it be to share your flower creations with the community? Our city is gorgeous right now.”
Using the hashtag #FlowerShareKern, Cavanagh created a video with some suggestions on arranging, decorating vases and examples of her work. She encourages others to express their creativity through arranging and share their work on social media using the hashtag.
For the artist, the key is to inspire others to keep creating and good things will come of it.
“My hope is and always will be for the arts to become a bigger importance in Bakersfield," she told The Hub. "I am a huge advocate for this town and the art scene here and I do what I can, when I can, to help promote the arts.”
Acting Out Theatre Company Bakersfield
The local youth theater group used its grant to purchase rights for Beat by Beat Press’s “The Show Must Go Online!” The show allowed young actors an avenue to sing, dance and act amid the stay-at-home orders.
"The support we received also enabled us to provide a meaningful online theater experience for not just one artist, but for the many kids in our community looking to pursue this artistic endeavor," said Kristel Tate, one of AOTCB's parent volunteers.
Although the show is currently wrapped, the company hopes to post it online soon. Check out AOTCB's Facebook page (.facebook.com/ActingOutTheatreCompany) for the latest news.
Belinda Rickett, utility boxes
The artist used her Cash for the Arts grant to paint utility boxes in east Bakersfield. One of the boxes that was an odd shaped inspired her to design it after a La Rosa fruit bar.
Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra
When the pandemic cut the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra's season short, it got creative, organizing mini concerts.
"Our mini concerts are an idea birthed from a desire for the Bakersfield Symphony to remain relevant and do something meaningful for the community during this time of uncertainty and social distancing," Holly Arnold, BSO's executive director wrote in an email. "We could all use a little unexpected joy, and music has a way of connecting people, especially when experienced live, even if the performance happens from a distance."
The Hub grant funded a socially distanced mini-concerts to two separate courtyards at senior facilities located downtown, whose residents have remained isolated, Arnold said.
She wrote,"For these concerts our musicians played some traditional pieces, but also varied things to include a bit of Dixie with W.C. Handy's 'Beale Street Blues,' and since many are missing baseball season, residents spontaneously sang along with the musicians’ rendition of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' which was followed by enthusiastic applause."
The concluding piece — a strolling version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" — brought many to tears, Arnold said.
Like other grant recipients, the BSO continues to engage the community artistically, offering mini concerts starting at $35.
"Anyone can purchase a mini concert for any reason! " Arnold wrote. "It’s a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day and support our local musicians in the process." For more information, visit bsonow.org/socially-distanced-performances.
Isaiah Morfin, 'Quarantine Karaoke Collection'
The singer-songwriter created a free six-song collection in collaboration with local musicians Nick Gonzalez, Tony Rinaldi, Crimson Skye and Josiah and David Caploe of Hate Drugs as well as old Berklee College of Music roommate Jason Heninger. This project required the saxophonist to record through his computer rather than a studio.
"Quarantine Karaoke Collection" will be available on Friday at thehubofbakersfield.org.
Morfin and his band, Izzy and the Fins, will also perform a livestream concert hosted by Andrae Gonzales at 7 p.m. Saturday. The show will stream at The Hub's and the band's Instagram pages.
This story was updated May 28 to add the title for The Hub board chairman Andrae Gonzales.