Wednesday, Mar 26 2014 04:09 PM

CAMILLE GAVIN: Arts Council doles out grants

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    By Bonhams Auction house

    These rare 19th century canvas scrolls created by German paleontologist Karl Alfred Von Zittel depict prehistoric fossils.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Ephraim Penn, owner of PennPoint Dance Academy

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By CAMILLE GAVIN, Contributing columnist

A boost in the budget is as welcome to nonprofit groups as it is to individuals.

Recently, 10 organizations got that sort of financial uplift as a result of grants approved by the Arts Council of Kern.

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Total amount of the grants given was $12,800, which is a little less than 15 percent of the $100,000 the council received this year from the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

Anthony Goss, council president, said in an earlier interview that the balance of the county money would be used for operating expenses.

I was pleased to see the variety of programs aided by the grants. The list ranges from a budding symphony orchestra and a nationally known dancer's performance at a summer day camp to the restoration of rare 19th century canvas scrolls that depict prehistoric fossils.

Koral Hancharik, director of the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science, filled me in on the background of the scrolls, which German paleontologist Karl Alfred Von Zittel created and used as a teaching tool for students at the University of Munich.

"Museum board member Dave Hanley purchased the scrolls at a Bonhams auction in Los Angeles a few years ago and donated them to the museum," she said. "The ACK grant (is) the perfect fit to help fund the preservation and display."

Money from the grant will help complete the preservation, curatorial work and framing needed to create a public display of Von Zittel's renderings that can be shown in the museum and elsewhere.

"We are very excited about this project and hope to have them ready for display by fall 2014," Hancharik said, adding that the scrolls are a significant example of how art and science go together and complement each other.

In addition to displaying Von Zittel's work at the downtown Bakersfield museum, the Buena Vista board hopes that the finished work will be portable so that it can be shown at other venues in the county.

Camp King, another grant recipient, drew upon the Arts Council's affiliation with Young Audiences, in requesting performing artists for its summer program.

Operated by the city of Bakersfield, the camp is held annually at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center and is limited to 72 campers whose parents pay $47 for the seven weeks that includes meals, swimming, and arts and crafts.

"We went through the YA (young adult) catalog and picked ones we thought would appeal to our kids," said Lisa Phillips, a recreation specialist who serves as camp coordinator.

Their choices include Ephraim "E-Baby" Penn, owner of a local dance studio and nationally known for winning the "Show us Your Moves" competition on NBC's "Today" show.

"He dances with the kids, really gets them moving," Phillips said. "Our kids absolutely love it."

Also performing at Camp King will be Don Kruszka and his Omnipresent Puppets doing "The Talking Stick," a story about a girl in an African village; and storyteller and discussion leader Jim Cogan whose program is titled "Bringing Bullying to Bay."

For its grant request, the Shafter Symphony Orchestra focused on its performances at the farming community's annual Colours Festival. The orchestra is conducted by Stephen C. Penner, who grew up in Shafter.

Visual art is the focus for several organizations that got grants.

Bakersfield Art Association is collaborating with a parents organization at Quailwood Elementary School in a program called "Artists in the Classroom: Passing on the Love of Art."

"We have a lot of retired teachers (in the BAA) who would love to do this," said Toni Lott, manager of the organization's Art Center. "Anytime we can do more bonding with the community the better -- that's our mission."

The grant will pay for several teaching artists who will go to the school to do their instruction over a period of weeks.

Kern River Valley Art Association's "Outside In" an art program for developmentally disabled individuals at the BARC Center in Lake Isabella.

The grant provides for art instruction for 12 students, ranging in age from 18 to 50, said Melody Lindley, who acts as an "artist mentor" along with Pat Brown and John Miller.

"I'm a retired psychiatric technician and I'm familiar with this kind of (program)," Lindley said. "I worked for a state hospital for 23 years."

The six-week program will culminate in a show and sale of students' work at the Nuui Cunni Center, an intertribal Native American organization in Lake Isabella.

Five other nonprofits that received funding for their projects include: Bakersfield Museum of Art for its 75th Anniversary Grapes of Wrath Celebration program; Boys & Girls Club of Kern County for "Green Space Mural"; Center for the World Festival Inc., "Art Speaks: Teaming art, writers, and songsters"; Frazier Mountain FOCUS Central Inc., "Art Camp 8"; and Owens Primary School, "Multiple Murals."

Since 2005, more than $70,000 has been granted to organizations throughout Kern County, according to a media release from the Arts Council. Information regarding applications for the 2015 round of community grants will be announced in November.

Art Shop Club

Art instructors seeking a new venue for their classes may want to take a look at the Art Shop Club.

"We want to open up our space to artists who want to teach," said Joyce Young, president. "It's also open to groups of artists that would like to use the facility on a day when it's not being used by club members."

Other exceptions include times when the shop is open to the public, such as 9 a.m. to noon every Thursday, as well as 5 to 7 p.m. on First Fridays

"We're trying to make it affordable," Young said. "We offer a membership, which is about $50 a month to provide a place to teach."

That amount includes insurance coverage provided by the club. Young said the club does not ask for a commission on sales made by teachers' students.

The club is located in a glass-fronted retail space in downtown Bakersfield on 20th Street between L and M streets.

Young estimates the size at about 21 feet wide and 80 feet deep with about 75 percent of adjustable wall space suitable for hanging canvases.

"In addition to having classes there, we can offer students a place to display their work for a month for public view," she said. "The students may also show at an open house on First Friday and invite their family and friends."

The club has been in operation at the 20th Street location since May 2006. For about 40 years prior, Young said, it was occupied by a business owned by Bob Owen, who sold art supplies and taught classes.

"We have been participating with guest artists' shows on First Fridays," she said. "Now we seek to expand by appealing to the community of art teachers and offering them access to our unique building."

It gives members a clean environment in which to store their supplies, she added, as well as parking space and other amenities such as a copy machine, projector, art magazines and instruction books, and videos.

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