Thursday, Jan 03 2013 02:22 PM

Artists blooming in winter

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    "Green People" by Dacey Villarreal is part of the group art exhibit "It's Not Easy Being Green," opening Friday at The Foundry.

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    "Puerto Rican Oxen" by Nancy Merrick, one of the worksfeatured in her "Potpourri" exhibit, which opens Friday at the Bakersfield Art Association's Art Center.

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    "Tubes" by Dacey Dia Villarreal will be featured in "Textures: An Exploration in Paint and Mixed Media," her exhibit opening Friday at the Dagny's Coffee Co.

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    "Tree" by Dacey Dia Villarreal will be featured in "Textures: An Exploration in Paint and Mixed Media," her exhibit opening Friday at the Dagny's Coffee Co.

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BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor sdias@bakersfield.com

The new year brings a fresh start for many who will make time to form new habits (and hopefully keep them). If supporting local arts is anywhere on your resolutions list, get started downtown with the inaugural First Friday of 2013.

Although we're in the dead of winter, the atmosphere will be bright and lively at The Foundry for its "It's Not Easy Being Green" exhibit. Gallery co-owner Christina Sweet said a show down south helped inspire the local exhibit.

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FIRST FRIDAY

WIth live music, specialty shops, art walk, 5 to 9 p.m., downtown arts district.

"It's Not Easy Being Green," group art show, 5 to 9 p.m., The Foundry, 1608 19th St.

"Textures: An Exploration in Paint and Mixed Media," art by Dacey Dia Villarreal, 6 to 8 p.m., Dagny's Coffee Co., 1600 20th St.

"Potpourri," art by Nancy Merrick, 6 to 8 p.m., Bakersfield Art Association's Art Center, 1817 Eye St.

"On the Homefront: Military Families," ongoing exhibit, music by Kama Ruby, refreshments by Mama Roomba, 5 to 9 p.m., Metro Galleries, 1604 19th St.

Open House, 5 p.m., The Basement, 1532 B 19th St.

"I attended a show in Pomona last summer called 'Red.' It was really interesting to study the use of the color by the various artists. Colors evoke different emotions to different people. Having such a broad theme as a color brought some really great entries.

Sweet said Foundry members new and old produced notable works.

"(One) that stands out from the rest was submitted by our newest member, Esteban Swear. It is a square canvas blanketed in money and it poses the question, 'What is it to You?'

"Jesus Fidel's piece is something new! He stepped outside the box on this one. It is of a beautiful peacock in greens and golds with a ton of texture."

The show is composed of 32 works, including mixed media pieces, digital art, photos and paintings. Artists in the show, a mix of Foundry members and outside artists, include: Dacey Villarreal, Teri Webb, Alexandra Ortiz, Jessica McEuen, Ashleymarie Lively, Nina Landgraff, Linda Osburn, Jerome Lazarus, Brittany Koenig, Jason Stewart, Diana Connolly and Billy Reynolds.

Guests on Friday will be able to vote for their favorite piece. The artist whose work garners the most votes will win a $75 cash prize.

The gallery, which held three group shows and some art challenges for members in 2012, has enjoyed a good turnout of work for its exhibits.

"We have had great success in participation for our group shows. The majority of the participating artists are our Foundry members. We encourage outside artists to join in on the fun!"

Along with upcoming art workshops, The Foundry will hold four group shows in 2013, including the return of a well-received show from last year that asked adult artists to re-create the look of a youth's artwork.

"The next group show, back by popular demand, is 'Art Imitates Art II,' which will open First Friday in March. ... 'Art Imitates Art' was our most successful show of 2012. For the March show, the pieces will hang together and sell as a set."

Sweet said the color theme could be due for a revisit as well.

"We will most likely do another show based on color, or maybe absence of color ... Our next color show may just be based on white space."

'Textures,' more at Dagny's

Artist Dacey Dia Villarreal's "Green" work was used to promote The Foundry's show, but she will be busy one street over on Friday for the opening reception of her solo show, "Textures: An Exploration in Paint and Mixed Media," at Dagny's Coffee Co.

Sweet said Villarreal's work was an easy pick to highlight the "Green" work.

"Dacey's piece stood out not only because of its mysterious image and size, but she submitted a piece nothing like I've seen of her work before."

Villarreal, who moved to Bakersfield more than 12 years ago, has shown her work at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, Metro Galleries and group shows at The Foundry. The artist teaches at Independence High School and Taft College.

Villarreal has recently concentrated her art in painting and printmaking, emphasizing texture. On her website, she states she uses "synthetic mediums to simulate natural textures, offering the viewer a unique tactile experience."

This technique will be on full display in this solo show, Villarreal said.

"My work that will be on display at Dagny's is centered around nature and its many textures. ... 'Tree' is the piece that started it all. It is a mixed media piece that shows the transformation from real to the imitation. The composition is inspired by nature and recreated with tissue paper and acrylic paint. The materials help to emphasize the rough dramatic quality of the tree bark."

With nature in mind, Villarreal said she will donate 10 percent of her sales from the show to the Tree Foundation of Kern County.

Along with Villarreal's show, other Bakersfield Art Association artists will display their work in the newly added gallery section of the coffeehouse. Focusing on historic or iconic Bakersfield, art from Patti Doolittle, Shirley Rowles, Norma Savage, Margaret Stevens, Cindy Stiles and Charlotte White will be on display through February.

'Potpourri'

Venture south down Eye Street for another BAA show at its Art Center with Nancy Merrick's "Potpourri" exhibit. The exhibit's title reflects the diversity of the works, Merrick said.

The show is "pretty much a mixed bag of subjects. .. thus 'Potpourri.' Basically, I selected paintings that are my favorites. Space was a major element to consider as several of my works are quite large, and, of course, a balance of subject and color combinations were a factor."

This month's BAA-featured artist, who began her painting career on a Caribbean island in 1968, said that she felt supported by the local arts scene as long as she has lived in Bakersfield.

"I moved here from Puerto Rico in 1994 and was instantly welcomed into the art world before the art district came to be. It cannot be other than an inspiration for those of us to whom art is a way of life."

As a result, she has focused many of her impressionistic watercolors on restful outdoor scenes she discovered in Kern, Tulare and San Luis Obispo counties.

As an artist in residence with the Arts Council of Kern, she taught classes for children with the late Barbara Fiser at the Lori Brock Museum and the Bakersfield School of Art. She also has presented workshops for Tulare Art Association, Porterville Art Association and the BAA.

As an artist, Merrick has been pleased by the growing attendance of the monthly art event.

"The whole concept of making art available to the public in the downtown area every First Friday has become a destination for hundreds of art lovers, families, music makers, and diners in numerous eateries."

Arts columnist Camille Gavin contributed to this report.

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