Annual Plein Air Painting Festival held in Downtown Bakersfield

Laura Lanfray, Feature Editor

This year marked the fifth annual Kern County Plein Air Painting Festival were painters from all around the county were invited to put their skills to work all around Bakersfield and the surrounding areas from April 8-13. 

Plein air” is a term that describes the act of painting in the open air rather than in a studio. Fourteen participants took to the town on April 11 and created paintings of the downtown area in the afternoon.

Laura Lanfray
Ellen Howard completes an oil painting of The Mark.

For five years now, the Arts Council of Kern has put together this festival to bring in skilled artists and share their works with the residents of Kern County. 

The subject matter was left entirely up to the painters, and with only a few hours to paint, the idea was not to achieve a perfectly precise painting but to create something that conveyed the mood or character from that time and place. Many of the artists chose to portray some of Downtown Bakersfield’s most iconic spots like The Mark and Guthrie’s Alley Cat while others chose quiet street corners, neglected structures or intricately packed shop windows.

Laura Lanfray
Patricia McGeeney finishes up her painting of the AT&T building in Downtown Bakersfield

The Bakersfield Art Association hosted a gallery of the completed works in the evening, providing snacks, and beverages to those who stopped by.

David Gordon, of the Arts Council, invited the guests to attend the Awards and Sales Gala held on April 13.

“The festival is a celebration of our home, a home like no other, filled with people like no other Kern has a richness of place, history, and the arts, where kindness, creativity, and generosity prevail,” Gordon stated in his invitation.

The painting was shown and sold at a gala at the Betty Younger Sculpture Garden.

Ay unsold paintings are on display at the Access Center until May 30.

Laura Lanfray
Lindsey Kustusch’s painting of Guthrie’s Alley Cat sits in the Bakersfield Art Association gallery during the artist meet and greet after the painting session on April 11.