Perhaps the only thing hotter than the weather this month is the downtown arts scene. So why should a 103-degree forecast dissuade anyone from all the fun to be had at First Friday?

A view to a thrill

Art is the big driving force for the monthly downtown gathering and there is plenty on tap. Start off by supporting the hard-working local vendors of the Art Walk, with its nexus at 19th and Eye streets extending through the arts district. 

The Bakersfield Art Association represents with a trio of shows, including "Mists and Mountains," a collection of watercolors by Norma Neil, at Dagny's Coffee Co. 

Reflecting her love of natural landscapes, Neil's work in the exhibit borders on the semi-abstract, with some pieces possessing a "mystical” look.

The artist continues to explore her craft, both by teaching workshops and attending those led by others, according to the BAA newsletter. 

Dagny's is also featuring the group show "Bug Me," which includes works from Marsha Black, Patti Doolittle, Norma Eaton, Patti Embrey, Greg Hauss, Casey Hibbard and Catherine Malahowski. The reception runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the coffeehouse, 1600 20th St.

And speaking of group shows, the BAA Art Center is hosting its own. "Forest for the Trees" features work in a variety of mediums. In addition to Neil and Black, whose work is also on display at Dagny's, the exhibition includes art from Norma Eaton, Deborah Cooper, Randall Bergquist, Iva Fendrick, Greg Hauss, Shirley Rowles, Cheri Sperl, Greg Stanley, Jeanie Truitt, Laura Valenzuela, Phyllis Oliver and Kelly Pankey. The reception runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the center, 1607 19th St.

Over at Metro Galleries, "My Trippy Wonder," paintings by Terry Tripp, remain on display through July. The artist, who was nominated for a Beautiful Bakersfield Award for creating an art gallery experience for his students at Golden Valley High School, has exhibited his work downtown at the Younger Gallery as part of the group show “Manifestation: 3 Views” as well as his solo show, “Stories of Wonder,” at The Empty Space Gallery.

“My Trippy Wonder” features works ranging in size from 46-by-60-inch paintings to 8-by-10-inch illustrations. Tripp is not afraid of color and his work is full of cartoony and disproportionate characters and scenes inspired by the 1980s pop-culture palette of his childhood.

The reception runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at Metro, 1604 19th St.

Let's groove

Tickets for Friday's Dwight Yoakum concert at the Crystal Palace sold out weeks ago, but there is still plenty to entertain music lovers headed downtown. Whether you're ready to dance or chill out with a brew and some tunes, First Friday has you covered. 

Mento Buru brings its funky blend of ska, Latin and reggae to Sandrini's Public House, 1918 Eye St., starting at 9 p.m. During breaks, DJ Phate will spin the tunes for maximum dancing. Admission is $5.

How do you make Cafe Smitten sweeter? Add performer Ariel Dyer to the mix. She bring her eclectic mix of originals and cover tunes to the shop at 909 18th St. from 7 to 9 p.m. The show is free and open to the public. Opt for a cold brew or brewski from Golden Road Brewing or a glass of Chronic Cellars wine.

Over at Mi Peru, 1310 19th St., The Brothers of Latin Rock are heading up a block street party from 6 to 9 p.m. Inspired by groups like Santana, Thee Midniters, Malo and WAR, the band consists of guitarist Mike Montano, keyboard player Benny Carrizales, Juan Rios on lead guitar, bass player Bobby Hernandez, percussionist Tony Congas Hernandez and drummer Eddie Trevino.

Out and about

The word is out about visual arts and music but did you know Bakersfield has a thriving poetry community? Check out some of these dedicated writers at the Open Mic at Dagny's Coffee Co., 1600 20th St. Readings of original works from 6 to 7 p.m. with sign-ups held right before the start. Call 717-1346 or visit for more information.

Did you know petting a dog can lower your blood pressure? Engage in some holistic treatment during Yappy Hour at the Padre Hotel's Prairie Fire, 1702 18th St. Canines from Marley's Mutts (and maybe some of their pals) will be on hand dispensing free doggie kisses and looking for some "good dog" pats and some chilling on the rooftop bar starting at 6 p.m.

Speaking of relaxation, mellow out during Yoga in the Garden at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R St. The free event, put on by Samsara Wellness Center, runs from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. Find out more at 323-7219 or

Ready to hang out with the family? Then head over for Spectrum Movies in the Park at Central Park at Mill Creek, 606 21st St. The free screening of "Trolls," begins at dusk (around 7:30 p.m.)., perfect timing for post-yoga fun.

Get your grub on at a different spot this Friday with the American Legion Dinner at American Legion, Post 26, 2020 H St. For just $13, diners can choose from a New York steak or half-chicken (or stuffed pork chop, when available) plus all the fixings and iced tea or water. Dinner is served starting at 5:30 p.m. Call 748-3559 or visit for more details.

Speaking of food, Democrats will celebrate their freedom and champion their causes at a First Friday gathering. Pen a letter or postcard to politicians, voicing your concerns or questions, then snack on a belated Fourth feast of grilled hot dogs, watermelon, potato salad and chili beans. The gathering runs from 5 to 8 p.m. at Kern County Democratic Party headquarters, 1430 Truxtun Ave.

Know of anything we've missed that should be included in the monthly First Friday round-up? Email information to

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