Saturday, July 27, 2013

Big Fun in Bakersfield CA

Bakersfield CA, July 2013, art museum and natural history museum

We had a little extra time on our trip to SoCal and stopped in Bakersfield-why?  I had never been-what better reason!  Turns out that either the art museum or the natural history museum would be more than worth your investment of a few hours.

We ate our lunch under a tree in Mill Creek Park which had a delightful assortment of families, young couples, retired folks-all enjoying the park.

And we fed the ducks

The park is right next to the Bakersfield Museum of Art.  I like art museums, but usually don't love all the exhibits...this time-I really liked everything!  There are exhibits even in the hallways, so they really get in a lot of art for a not very large building.

One exhibit was still-lives of fruit, like in classic paintings, but with the modern day packaging and stickers left on.  It is a simple change, but effective.  The photography itself was quite good and the exhibit book discussed the lighting set up in depth.

Down one hallway was a progressive story.  The artist had 96 hours to write the first page of a story and paint/draw/create the art to go with it.  Then they hand it off to the next artist who has 96 hours to create the second page.  Neat!  I didn't love the whole, but I like the concept and some of the individual works.

Some past winners of shows were in the hall, like this one that evokes the canyons of the Southwest.  This one totally works for me-I got the feeling before even reading about the concept.

The most surprising gallery for me was on California Impressionism.  Monet was my first love in art class-I still remember going to the MoMA and sitting with the gigantic water lilies.  Turns out, there were Impressionist painters who painted California-who knew!  It is a stunning collection from the Irvine Museum and I was just blown away by how it was a style I think of as French, but with my familiar California landscapes.

Finally, there was a juried competition on display.  This exhibit I loved because it contained such a diversity of styles and interpretations.  Great job curators of the Bakersfield Museum of Art!

Buena Vista Natural History museum
We noticed that the Buena Vista Natural History museum in the middle of downtown and we figured we could get through it in an hour...well, we did, but we could have easily been there for a few more. Again these curators manage to pack a lot into a small space!  Here you can see they found a creative way to display the snake skin by using a ceiling pipe.

On the top floor they have a substantial dinosaur exhibit.  They seem to use every type of presentation available.  In depth notes, dioramas, bones, and full wall paintings...

Don't look up!

Great depiction of the comet

There is a neat exhibit of how the Native American lived-grass hut, basket weaving, clothing and ceremonial singing are all on display.  In between the baskets and the dinos are minerals and geology.  This collection is amazing-so much going on!  I appreciated the collection of state rocks (Wisconsin is in the upper right).

They have a local group for kids interested in geology (couldn't be any cuter!)

And a room dedicated to fluorescent minerals in rocks-the two pictures are the same rocks, just with the UV light off and on. 

The museum sponsors fossil hunting trips-it looked like the next one is to look for shark's teeth...if I lived in the area I would be in it for sure!  If you can't go on the full trip, they let you practice.

In the classic natural history of animals section I was particularly taken with the display of horses hooves.  Back in the day, they were three-toed horses, but they died off and we are left with our single-hooved friends.  There is a nice evolutionary tree diagram and hoof examples!

And finally, you can tell the enthusiasm of these folks by the depth of the collections and the great commentary.

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