Helmed by photo instructor Hal “Bull” Schmitt, Light Photographic Workshops simplify Adobe programs with single-day, eight-hour sessions designed to turn Photoshop neophytes into pic-enhancing masters. The course will delve into Lightroom’s powerful, easy-to-use sliders, tools, and basic editing functions for removing apparitional pic crashers. Though not required, students are welcome to bring their Lightroom 3–equipped laptop to the class to follow along with the lesson plan or a notepad and quill pen to take notes. Upon completing the course, each student takes home an instructional DVD with more than 8 hours of material for multimedia reminders of the class’s subject matter and a 40 percent discount on their first fine art, photo, or fine-art gallery canvas wrap print order through Light Workshops. Students are encouraged to bring either a bagged lunch or lunch money to save personal computers and fellow students from accidental ingestions.
At Ostrich Land, visitors quickly learn that ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand—they'd much rather bury them in a bowl of food that you hold out in front of you. They're also not fond of waiting their turn, and at any given moment, you might have four beaks dipping into your supply. The experience is a far cry from throwing bread at ducks or pigeons. These birds are the world's largest: they can reach up to 9 feet in height and weigh 350 pounds. At top speed, they hit 45 miles per hour on their massive, two-toed feet.
Having been raised around people and trained to eat from outstretched bowls, the park's 50 ostriches and emus welcome spectators from their savannah-like enclosure. They're also celebrities in their own right, with bit roles in the film Sideways as well appearances in a Santa Maria Times video feature and a tongue-in-cheek homage in an episode of The Simpsons. Dispensing the animals' supper is only one way in which guests can get close—a stop inside the gift shop reveals shelves of ready-to-cook ostrich and emu eggs, ostrich feather dusters, and savory ostrich meat shipped in from a separate farm not affiliated with Ostrich Land. Also in stock are vials of emu oil, a substance with anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties that can soothe the skin.
The impressionist painters who inspired winemaker Bion Rice raised shimmering mirages in which soft-edged daubs of paint seem to grant motion to ballerinas or swaying river rushes. At Artiste, Bion draws inspiration from their work, attempting to raise distant landscapes with grapes rather than rough brushstrokes. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes call up the sun-steeped fields of the Napa Valley, and chardonnay grapes carry one away to the Russian River Valley on straw-hued sweetness. Bion calls the blends “impressionist cuvees,” and he produces small batches of them, their corks sealed beneath thick, hand-dipped cloaks of crimson wax.
The bottles are labeled with colorful impressionist paintings, and in a tasting room and studio, the harmonious relationship between wine and art is even further cemented. The whisper of brushes on canvas drifts from paint-dappled tables, where guests bring to life sweeping forest vistas or criminal lineups of pine trees. A rotating array of paintings lines the walls, including works from artists such as Aldo Luongo, an Argentinian artist whose contrasting colors and rippling brushstrokes seem to gaze up from a clear lake. Wine glasses chime together, punctuating the lilting rhythm of classical guitarists or the constant weeping of trombone players during live music events.
The Bakersfield Museum of Art caters to avid aesthetes and casual connoisseurs alike with a prismatic pastiche of regional art and traveling exhibits. Explore western U.S. landscapes through Maynard Dixon's painted works in the Space, Silence, Spirit exhibit, or incite daydreams of horizontal showers and closet waterfalls in Uniquely Ours, an installation boasting the architectural modernism of local homes. In addition to free entry to the museum, members receive access to lectures from celebrated artists, invitations to events, museum discounts, and more.
Within the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History's thick, siege-proof walls and beneath its huge, atmosphere-shunning roof are 16,000 square feet of exhibits spanning the subjects of anatomy, astronomy, archaeology, anthropology, biology, geology, and paleontology. Use your two tickets ($7 each) to bring along a fellow fossil fanatic as you explore an array of long-extinct creatures such as the mixosaurus, the dugong, and the VCR repairman. Elsewhere, tap into the geologic history of California, sifting through eons of erosion and millennia of movement. The museum's nooks of knowledge hold exhibits for everyone, with a veritable treasure trove of gems, minerals, and petrified wood wowing the young, the old, and the Highlander alike.
The walls don’t look the same for long at Red Brick Gallery. Since opening in 2006, the space has featured works by more than 150 different artists, exposing the public to paintings, metal sculptures, woodwork, glass pieces, and more. The gallery almost exclusively seeks the talent of emerging and mid-career artists, with an emphasis on locally commissioned works. “At any given time,” co-founder Jennifer Livia told Food and Home Magazine, “about seventy percent of our art is by local artists.” To bolster the public’s appreciation for art, Red Brick Gallery also teaches students of all ages and skill levels how to paint with acrylics and watercolors, create mosaics, and even take and edit photographs.