BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor firstname.lastname@example.org
One might think after a jam-packed First Friday in September that the downtown event might coast through the end of the year. Fat chance, as a slate of new shows celebrate nature and dreams.
One such dreamer is Bill Lagattuta, a former CBS News correspondent now pursuing his lifelong love of art. He returns to Metro Galleries with "American Dreamer: Road Signs to a Reinvented Life," paintings and metal works reflecting the journey of all who take that fork in the road.
First Friday art shows
"American Dreamer: Road Signs to a Reinvented Life," Bill Lagattuta, 5 to 10 p.m., Metro Galleries, 1604 19th St.
"Organic Abstracts: Untitled Series I," Joel Arvallo, 5 to 9 p.m., The Foundry, 1608 19th St.
"Hooves and Horns," Christina Sweet, 5 to 9 p.m., Farmacy Cafe, Padre Hotel, 1702 18th St.
Yuriko Tomita, Japanese calligraphy, 6 to 8 p.m., Dagny's Coffee Co., 1600 20th St.
Kern County Fair Winning Artists, 6 to 8 p.m., BAA Art Center, 1817 Eye St. (see story on Page 24)
"I think I'm just one of many people who has an inner desire to express themselves in one way or another that their life path may not allow them to do. ... When I left the world of television, I can't tell you how many people approached me saying, 'I wish I could do what you did.'"
Capturing the expressions of those in the process of dreaming, whether about a career change or chomping down a hamburger, is the focus of Lagattuta's portraits.
His "Hamburger Man" is the show's signature piece, expressing the pursuit of a dietary dream.
"He sort of came out of nowhere. He expresses it perfectly: The simple pleasures in life are the ones that count. Not the chase, not the hunt, not the attack, not the kind of life that I used to lead -- get the story."
Along with the portraits, Lagattuta also incorporated arrows in his metal sculptures, which intermingle paint and rust.
Lagattuta said he strived to keep his work in "American Dreamer," especially the portraits, down to the essentials.
"I try to make them as simple as I can. The challenge is that it's harder to make things really, really simple."
'Dreams' realized at Dagny's
Another artist finding the beauty in simplicity is Yuriko Tomita, who will display her Japanese calligraphy at Dagny's Coffee Co.
Tomita has taught the writing art both in the U.S. and in her native Japan, from which she emigrated in 1994. She now offers lessons at Bakersfield Budo, a facility known more for martial arts training.
"Calligraphy is a very different style (than martial arts). One is active, one is quiet. But both are based on selflessness. And share the meaning to pursue the truth of life. The styles are very different, but you can see the common points."
Tomita's show takes its theme from "dreams can come true," which is the case for the artist enjoying her biggest exhibit yet, with at least 17 works on display. She said she looks forward to sharing her work.
"I just really appreciate that I can share this very unique art with the people in Bakersfield. I understand that Japanese calligraphy is different from Western art. Although they may not be able to understand what is written, each character has meaning. ... I hope they can enjoy and feel the power of kanji in the art."
'Hooves and Horns'
From powerful calligraphy to mighty creatures, hoof it over to Farmacy Cafe at the Padre Hotel for "Hooves and Horns," a colorful collection of paintings by Christina Sweet.
Fresh off her first-place win at last month's "Latination" exhibit at Metro for "RUN!", Sweet said her style took a cue from that work of a bull caught mid-charge.
"I learn something new with every piece I create. When I painted 'RUN!', I focused more on one focal point, the bull and his position. I normally would have detailed out the whole piece. I found in muting the background a bit, it gave more of the focus I wanted."
Sweet's eight works (she'll add more before the end of the year) continue to put animals front and center, from a water buffalo to bucks.
"This (theme) is something I've been thinking about for some time. I used to study the horns on my dad's mounted deer busts as a kid. I find antlers interesting in that they are one of a kind, just like original art. Every animal in this show displays crowning horns."
Going 'Organic' at Foundry
Although Sweet will be busy with her Padre show, The Foundry, the gallery she co-owns, will be abuzz with its own new show: "Organic Abstracts: Untitled Series I."
Like Sweet, Foundry member Joel Arvallo brings his own spin on nature in his 24 works.
"The show's about a visual love affair between the connections, the different levels of nature, between the macro and the micro. And I celebrate those connections. That's what keeps me going, that's what intrigues me."
The artist, who cites Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo as one of his heroes, said that he works in chromatic color and doesn't believe in "painting right out of the tube."
"Tamayo came up with his own color blends, almost like an alchemist. ... I see a lot of art and it's well executed, but they don't develop their own palette. It's like a writer, you use words but you have to make it your own."
Some artists on the 19th Street artwalk will be busy selling accessories that may complete your costume, but so will Steampunk Fortress.
The store reopens Friday at 1912 Chester Ave. after setbacks from a flood in May.
Owner Gabrielle Lopez wrote in an email that the store, which will specialize in Victorian era/sci fi mashup-style accessories, can order costume-worthy corsets.
Lopez said there is still time before Halloween to order corsets. There will also be a clearance sale of other items to make way for more steampunk merchandise.