The Burgeoning Art Industry in Bakersfield
The residents of Bakersfield show their artistic prowess through a variety of methods. One manner of display are the various art museums around the city, chief among these museums is the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Originally Cunningham Memorial Art gallery was opened in 1956 by a wealthy Indiana family looking to commemorate their late daughter. Starting as a quaint gallery with one collection seems to have been what the museum was destined to be, this changed in 1990 when the Bakersfield art foundation was formed and the museum was nationally accredited just one year later. In the preceding decade the gallery received major endowments and was renovated as well as expanded before being reopened in 2001. Nowadays the museum hosts exhibits presented by artists in the local area as well as touring exhibits by popular names like Bryan Ida, Gustavo Godoy and the aforementioned Marion Osborn Cunningham. From 3D geometric art pieces to wonderfully complex vibrantly colored pieces on canvas. Along with the renowned exhibitions on tour and it's many local artists the Bakersfield Museum of Arts has pieces of emotional as well as historical importance. The Estampas Collection on display at the museum was made by a group of Mexican-American Artists to detail the cultural impact of the Mexican revolution through 84 linoleum blocks depicting scenes ranging from political figures making declarations in front of jeering mobs to citizens being dragged to farms in full view of their families. These striking images are apart of a collection started in 1937 by artists who had lived through the art they were making.
Music History of Bakersfield
Visual art is not the most popular form of art in the city of Bakersfield. That title belongs to the rich music history the city has to offer, including names like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard who revolutionized a genre of their own through the implementation of fiddles, steel guitars and drums to traditional country music in an effort to liven said music and revolutionize the genre as a whole. This was done so well Owens ended up with 21 chart topping singles throughout his career and his very own street named after him in the city of Bakersfield. Not far behind him is the troubled artist Merle Haggard who faced adversity early on in his musical career due to issues with law enforcement, ending up in San Quinton by the age of 20. Through various run-ins with law enforcement the young Haggard developed a reputation not just for delinquency but for escaping the consequences. 17 escape attempts were enough to land the young man not capable of purchasing alcohol in a super-max prison. Here is where he would spend the next five years developing his bass playing skills performing with the Wynn Stewart’s band on the prison yard. Haggard was in attendance for Johnny Cash's performance in 1958 where he decided to forfeit his life of petty crime in pursuit of a career like Cash's, being paroled just two years later unknowingly put Haggard on a starship-like trajectory eventually ending with 38 number one singles in his career as well as a street named in his honor.
Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame
Both of the aforementioned artists now reside in the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, a prestigious recognition reserved for less than 20 musicians including Mary Osborne, Lawrence Tibbett and Larry Daniels. The talent that now calls this place home have impacted no just country music but the Bakersfield region as a whole. In an era preceding Jim Crowe music gathered an ethnically diverse population into communal areas to smooth a transition that turned violent in certain states. Founded by the same people as the locally renowned "Crystal Palace" this critical piece of Bakersfield history has become a place of coming together through the tribute performances and the new artists provided opportunities to perform on such a prestigious stage. Nothing shows the ambience of the Bakersfield Musical Hall of Fame more than the period of the pandemic, the venue persevered through a worldwide pandemic without it's ticketing revenue and merchandising, this goes to show the community's support for a staple of the city.
World Records Store
The only thing more recognizable that the Bakersfield Musical Hall of Fame may be the World Records record shop in downtown Bakersfield. Opened in 1982 this record store has been the dream of two childhood friends with a love of music. Though Bakersfield had five other record shops owner Scott Schwebel and his boyhood friend opened the store as a result of new musical releases not being readily available through the competition. Tragically Scott's life was cut short shortly after the shop's inception. Over the last few decades, World Records has grown to become an indomitable pillar of the Bakersfield community, well beyond being just a record store. It has etched its name in the city's cultural fabric, not only as a reliable source for acquiring vinyl treasures but also as a nurturing platform for the burgeoning local and new musical talents. The shop's commitment to promoting these artists has resulted in the creation of commercial-free shows, a testament to the owner's unwavering dedication to enriching the cultural tapestry of the city.
These shows have offered a spotlight to countless talented musicians who might have otherwise remained in obscurity, becoming a launching pad for many to showcase their musical prowess. In doing so, World Records has not only enriched the musical heritage of Bakersfield but also created a sense of belonging and unity within the community.
Theaters in Bakersfield
Another avenue of Bakersfield's art is audible as well as visual. This form of art is of course theater, of which there are many in the city of Bakersfield. From the amphitheater at the local high school to the nearly century old orchestra this city can provide a show to a wide range of attendants. One may lose track of the importance theater and music have on the city of Bakersfield but is quickly reminded when seeing the crowds drawn to all the theaters in the area on a weekly basis. Every week, the city buzzes with anticipation as theatergoers, young and old, congregate to witness the magic unfold on stage. The diverse selection of shows spans the entire spectrum of theatrical history, from timeless Hellenic classics to the immortal words of Shakespeare, which continue to resonate with contemporary audiences. Classic stories such as "Oedipus Rex" and "Hamlet" find new life under the stage lights, offering fresh perspectives and engaging dialogue. Conversely, modern theatrical productions, infused with innovation and zest, have their own special place in Bakersfield's artistic landscape. Audiences can sway to the rhythmic beats of "Grease" or voyage into the dramatic depths of the "Titanic." These modern classics bring the vibrancy of contemporary culture to the forefront, presenting a perfect fusion of entertainment and artistry.
Downtown Art's District
The iconic Fox Theater is located in the art district of downtown Bakersfield, surrounded by murals along 19th street and M street this art deco inspired multiple story theater has gilded walls and ceilings to enhance the decadence of such a historical building. At all times of the day the art district is a vibrant getaway for the whole family, Whether coming out of an early showing to peek at the Metro Gallery on 19th street complete with a mix of both contemporary as well as abstract works, sculptures and alternative media works. In order to support the local artistry one must visit the Art Center Gallery, complete with it's own mobile exhibitions this art gallery has academic, contemporary and abstract works on display all around the city of Bakersfield. In order to take full advantage of Bakersfield's talent one would have to visit the Belle Gallery on Chester Avenue this subtle location take "underground" to a different level. Built in the basement of a 100 year old bakery the white washed bricks of that basement have been witness to Bakersfield upcoming musical talent as well as fashion shows. If you're looking for a budget-friendly yet artistically enriching experience, the Spotlight Theater is your answer. This cozy 99-seat venue provides a welcoming space for those eager to explore the world of theater without breaking the bank. It's a place where the nature of the stage is brought to life, offering a platform for aspiring thespians and storytellers to shine while delivering accessible entertainment to the community. In Bakersfield's art district, the Fox Theater stands as a beacon of the city's artistic heritage, surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of creativity. Whether you're drawn to the classical elegance of the Fox, the contemporary allure of the Metro Gallery, or the unconventional charm of the Belle Gallery, the city's art district promises a sensory feast for all who enter. It's a testament to Bakersfield's unwavering commitment to nurturing and celebrating its rich artistic tapestry.
Moving to Bakersfield as an artist
Among those moving to the city of Bakersfield are artists, while being a northern California city Bakersfield is not very spacious. New residents are often looking for more space due to the lack of square footage local homes have. Chief among these complaints for space are these recently arrived artists who have art supplies and finished pieces needing cautious storage. The only place to get the best storage is Derrel's Mini Storage who offers more then 10 locations in Bakersfield alone. Please check out on of our locations in Bakersfield: