Wednesday, Feb 20 2013 03:59 PM

When feeling blue is good

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    By Photo courtesy of Susan Reep

    "Blue is the Only Color" by Susan Reep, part of her show "BLUE — Photos from Spain and Morocco," which opens Monday.

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    By Photo courtesy of Susan Reep

    "This Happy Hour" by Susan Reep, part of her show "BLUE — Photos from Spain and Morocco," which opens Monday.

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

Winter has many of us feeling a bit blue, but a dose of "BLUE" might be just the thing to combat those seasonal doldrums. Susan Reep brings her collection of colorful travel photos to Valentien Restaurant & Wine Bar starting Monday.

The photographic exhibit emerged from a 2011 trip Reep took with her husband to Spain and Morocco.

"She (my daughter) gave us a mission. When we took our trip to Morocco, my daughter said she'd like to put some photos from the blue family in her house. When you're going to take hundreds of photos, possibly thousands, it's nice to have something to narrow your focus."

Focusing on blue was easy for Reep based on her exotic surroundings.

"It (blue) is a very Moroccan color. So much of the Moorish architecture and features highlight it."

The show's 20 photos include a mix of classic and close-up shots displaying a range of subjects, from Gaudi architecture to tilework and manmade goods.

"A lot of abstract patterns are in the photographs. A lot of tile, details from Moorish buildings, things from the Alcazar in Seville in Spain."

For the display, Reep has paired each piece with a relevant quote.

"I've matched them with quotes about the color blue and color in general that said something about the work. That sort of viscerally seem to go with the photo."

Although she wouldn't single out just one image -- "How could I pick a favorite? I love them all!" -- she said the collection highlights well-known sites and hidden wonders.

"The juxtaposition of all the colors and shapes and different kinds of wares -- the jewelry market, the produce market, leather market, meat market -- everything you want to buy has its own area. Everything has its own place. That's just visually so exciting."

Traversing Morocco's medinas (open-air markets) was a trip back in time for Reep, who had served in the Peace Corps there from 1971 to 1973.

"This was our first trip back. It was bigger and there was cellphone coverage everywhere, but so much was just the same. We felt instantly at home. We found our old house. The old cafe where we had cafe au lait and croissants every day."

Honoring the past is important to Reep, who plans to donate a portion of opening night proceeds to Honor Flight Kern County, which transports World War II veterans to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C.

"My dad is a World War II veteran. He's 94 now and he's going on an honor flight in April. In the last few years, I've become very interested in veteran causes, and my daughter does a lot of work with veterans and on PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I really believe in what they're (Honor Flights) doing. Whatever we can do to honor the people who did so much for us, I'd like to be a part of even in this very small way."

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