Wednesday, Jun 26 2013 10:27 AM

Eye Gallery Chapter Five: A protagonist steps to the fore

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    As artist, curator and founder of The Foundry art gallery, Christina Sweet, 34, has become a prominent voice in the local art scene in just a few short years.

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    Christina Sweet's piece for Eye Gallery.

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BY MATT MUNOZ Californian staff writer mmunoz@bakersfield.com

Five chapters in to the story about a mysterious figure in a courtyard, we finally have a protagonist: a woman staring pensively into space.

"I sat to write my segment of the story first," said artist Christina Sweet of her Eye Gallery assignment. "I wanted to move the story along, closing one chapter, and leave it wide open for the next artist. I also introduced the main character as a woman. While applying the paint, I kept the layers light and watered down to allow the wood grain to be exposed. I feel it gives it an additional textural look."

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CHAPTER FIVE: Seeking answers

You see, this is a recurring puzzle. Like the sense of having words on the tip of your tongue but no ability to form them.

You know the answer will come when you least expect it. Until next time, my late night visitor, I will hum the tune and ponder.

About Eye Gallery

The annual art series is a partnership between The Californian and the Bakersfield Museum of Art whose purpose is to put the work of local artists in the spotlight. This year we asked 10 artists to collaborate on a story, in words and pictures. Each was given 96 hours, a canvas and all the work that had been produced to that point. The story will unfold in Eye Street every Thursday through June 27, when the museum will host a reception for the artists and unveil other exhibitions.

Sweet, like the artists who came before her, was given 96 hours and, for reference, the chapters and artwork created to that point. Last week's installment, by artist Al Mendez, was a striking painting of a wave, but it did represent a bit of a visual departure from the series so far, creating an opportunity for Sweet.

"The biggest challenge was trying not to be too influenced by the painting just before mine, and to create something that would fit as a whole with all the preceding works.

"I love a challenge. This body of work is interesting to me in that it is progressive. It could take a turn at any time."

As artist, curator and founder of The Foundry art gallery, Sweet, 34, has become a prominent voice in the local art scene in just a few short years. Sweet's work and role at The Foundry have become a driving engine of the First Friday art walk, and she's used her influence to help encourage the careers of the gallery's 80-plus members while nurturing future talents, including her three young daughters: Shelby, Emily and Audrey.

"It is my life's passion to encourage arts to children. At The Foundry, we are starting art education workshops to help facilitate that this summer. I'm also strongly driven to expose up-and-coming artists and help them learn how to succeed in their craft."

Adding to her list of art-related accolades, Sweet was named The Californian's breakout artist of 2012.

"I enjoy colorful art. Artworks that tell a story all within itself speak to me most. On the other hand, I most enjoy creating art that is more representational but in an abstract style and color palette."

How long you've been painting:

Since the age of 10.

Memory of the first time you sold a piece of work:

Age 14. I painted 23 characters over two walls in a baby's nursery.

What were hoping to convey to the viewer with this piece:

An emotion. The character is left confused and anxious, but this feeling is familiar to her and she has to move on.

Favorite artists:

I'd have to say my favorite artist of all time is Andy Warhol. I love his bold presentation. I can't say I have an absolute local favorite. I enjoy the works of so many local artists, for many different reasons.

When did art become a passion:

I found my niche here in town just four to five years ago. I've always practiced. My mother kept me very busy as a child and teen painting murals in the house and canvas pieces. I knew from the first wall mural I did at age 10 that it was my passion. I just didn't know how to drive it.

The work I'm proudest of:

My piece titled "RUN!," that was exhibited at Metro Galleries for last year's Latination art show. I feel it opened a gateway for me and my new style.

Your most supportive mentor:

As far as biggest supporter goes, I'd have to say my team at The Foundry. Our members are always so helpful. They truly cheer us on and make it all worth it for me. Foundry aside, I would say Don Martin of Metro Galleries. He is encouraging and has the know-how to help or give advice at every turn. He is a hard-working arts community pioneer in my eyes.

What your art says about you:

My work shows that I think outside the box. I don't paint in traditional colors and lines. I am not professionally trained, so my art is raw.

Some of your non-art passions:

I love to bake and cook. I enjoy time in the kitchen most while home. I love trying new recipes. Feeding my family makes my heart happy.

How to learn more about my work:

csweetart.com and bakersfieldfoundry.com

 

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