Keri Gless, Jose Salas, & Katie Werdel (L-R) Salas will be creating magic on the Driven by Art pick-up sponsored by Bakersfield Magazine.

Local Creativity

A plethora of painted pick-ups (how’s that for alliteration?) are eagerly awaiting deployment in celebration of the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s diamond anniversary.

Smith’s Bakery served as the inspiration for this Driven by Art creation.
Smith’s Bakery served as the inspiration for this Driven by Art creation.

For the special occasion the Museum has asked 33 local artists to embellish, decorate, and yes, even festoon small-scale 1956-era fiberglass pick-up trucks fit to paint the town. Why 1956? That was the year the Museum was founded, of course! The BMOA has partnered with artists and sponsors alike for the project with multiple events being held over a months-long celebration, until the trucks are moved to their final destinations.

When asked about the inspiration behind the project, Museum Marketing Director Shannon Medina explained that it “came about as a way to celebrate the Museum’s 60th year. We’ve been around for 60 years now so we wanted to do something big and involve the community in it.” An all volunteer committee is executing the project, with support from the Museum’s staff.

Keri Gless, Jose Salas, & Katie Werdel (L-R) Salas will be creating magic on the Driven by Art pick-up sponsored by Bakersfield Magazine.
Keri Gless, Jose Salas, & Katie Werdel (L-R) Salas will be creating magic on the Driven by Art pick-up sponsored by Bakersfield Magazine.

And if the idea seems familiar, that’s because there have been similar public art installations around the country, such Chicago’s Cows on Parade, New York’s Big Apples, and the Giant Oranges in nearby Riverside. Keri Gless, a “Fleet Manager” for the Driven By Art project came up with the idea and has been instrumental in bringing it to life. She says “the planning for Driven By Art has been a dream of mine to bring to the Bakersfield community and Kern County since I have moved here. 10 years ago I moved from my hometown of Riverside where at that time, the Riverside Art Museum was executing the Giant Orange Artventure. As the wife of a citrus farmer and supporter of the arts, this project has always held a special place in my heart and one I hoped to see duplicated in my adoptive hometown.” Thankfully, her dream became a reality, “flash forward [to] two years ago when my dear friend Katie Werdel asked me to join the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s Board of Directors. Timing is everything and the Museum’s 60th year was quickly approaching.”

This project has been a great way to not only involve the community in celebrating the Museum’s impact, but to also provide exposure for some of Bakersfield’s most talented artists. “Driven By Art celebrates the bond between the BMOA and the greater community of Bakersfield. This will be the largest and friendliest outdoor public art event Kern County has ever witnessed,” Gless stated.

Darla Kendrick paints a colorful pick-up to help celebrate the BMOA 60th Anniversary.
Darla Kendrick paints a colorful pick-up to help celebrate the BMOA 60th Anniversary.

The response for the installation has been phenomenal with the Museum receiving a lot of support and community involvement for the project. All 33 trucks have been sponsored by local businesses, individuals, and organizations. Sponsors had a meet and greet with the artists where they chose who they would be working with and where their trucks would be displayed during the public exhibition from October through January. Artists have already begun work on transforming the three-dimensional fiberglass trucks and are free to alter them however they see fit, from painting and decorating to embellishing, or whatever their artistic style may be. According to Gless, “each truck has its own notable personality!”

If you can’t wait to view the trucks and the progress on their transformations you are in luck. Many of the artists are active on social media and have been using the#BMOAdrivenbyart hashtag to post regular updates. Medina said, “I’ve seen a lot happening on their Instagrams and Facebooks and we did one post when the trucks arrived and that’s been our most popular post in the past couple months.”

Iva Fendrick paints a colorful ranch scene for the museum’s event.
Iva Fendrick paints a colorful ranch scene for the museum’s event.

The completed pick-ups will arrive at the BMOA on September 17th and remain on view for a couple weeks before being moved to their public exhibition locations in the downtown area in time for First Friday, October 7th. They will remain on public display for three months, parked downtown on sidewalks, street corners, and beside roadways. From there the sculptures will be moved to a location of the sponsor’s choosing, or, they also have the option of donating the pieces to the Bakersfield Foundation. So far 13 trucks have been promised to the Foundation and will be permanently installed along the Westside Parkway.

And when will the finished works be revealed to the public? Well, “We’re having two events,” Medina said, “the trucks will be here for a few weeks prior and we’re having a Driven By Art Preview Gala and then also a Truckapalooza: Kids Art Festival and Truck Extravaganza.” The Driven By Art Gala will also feature an auction and take place on Saturday, September 24th. The Truckapalooza, being held on Sunday, October 2nd will have food trucks, interactive art stations, and allow guests to get up close and personal with the decorated pick-ups.

Excitingly enough, there are multiple scavenger hunts in the works as well, including a digital one that you can participate in through Facebook and Instagram. There will also be a traditional hunt held on October 7th.

During the public exhibition maps with the locations of all 33 trucks in the fleet will be available at the BMOA, Bakersfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and other locations around the City. Residents can follow the map through Bakersfield to visit them all, making pit stops at local restaurants and shops along the way. Dedicated readers can keep an eye out for the Bakersfield Magazine pick-up which is slated to appear at 1831 Chester Ave., outside of downtown convenience store Vests Market.

The Driven By Art project is a great way for you to get involved in the local arts community! Tickets and additional information about the multiple events are available on the Museum’s website at www.bmoa.org/drivenbyart.

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