In the late 1940s, a group of artists came together to create the Fresno Arts League—a forum for art exhibition and critique. Their inspiration lives on today at Fresno Art Museum, a hub for artistic culture. The museum houses a permanent collection of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art exhibits by the likes of Norman Rockwell and Ansel Adams. Members get more than entry to the museum; they also receive free access to opening receptions and Conversations with The Artists events, among other benefits.
Hundreds of reenactors from several western states descend on Kearney Park for a living-history lesson that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the civil war. Wander through a civilian town and military encampments housing battle-weary soldiers as live music from the period drifts through the air and artisans craft non-anachronistic wares. Time-traveling visitors may stumble upon Abraham Lincoln for a chat about emancipation or about how he plans to decorate his beard for Halloween as a collection of stagecoaches gleams in the sun nearby.
Arte Américas is a nonprofit cultural emporium of Latin-Americana that integrates more than 10,000 square feet of eclectic artwork, theater classes, live music, book readings, poetry slams, and many workshops. This season's summer concerts in the Plaza give you a chance to gyrate your hips to the sizzling cumbia of La Sonora Explosion Dinamitera (August 6); groove to the songs of Santana as delivered by Zebop (September 3); or anachronistically Charleston to 40-Watt Hype's fusion of hip-hop, Latin, soul, and R&B (September 10). And come Mother's Day, your membership puts you y tu mama tambien on the VIP list for the perpetually sold-out Rebozo Festival, which recognizes the achievements of Hispanic women in categories other than Being Salma Hayek. The laid-back atmosphere of Arte Américas is reflective of the vibrant Hispanic and Latino influences found throughout the museum as you stroll around, absorb the creative energy, and daydream about siestas where you're dreaming about siestas.
Swirls of sauce and meticulously placed herbs adorn the outer edges of the platters at Sushi Go Round, epitomizing the chefs' creative leanings. Patrons can play it safe with standard rolls that include cucumber, spicy tuna, and california, or venture into new territory with specialty creations such as the spicy Volcano roll, which, just like a real volcano, erupts with tuna and calamari. Bento boxes pair chicken, salmon, or beef teriyaki with sidekicks of soup, salad, tempura, rice, and a soft drink. Also leaving the kitchen in small plumes of heat is bulgogi, or Korean barbecue beef, served beside a california roll and shrimp and veggie tempura.
In 1868, a massive flood rolled down the Sierra Nevada Mountains, carrying tree after uprooted tree in its wake. Once the waters receded, those trees and the very confused squirrels hiding in them covered the Kern River valley. That's right where Thomas Barnes found them. So he cut them into logs and built a cabin from the ground up, then moved in with his wife and seven children. Today, that same cabin stands as one of the buildings within Kern County Museum's Pioneer Village.
The structures here are relics of several different times and places. Some came from old farms in the area, while others once stood on the main streets of towns—such as the Beale Memorial Clock Tower from old Bakersfield. While their original purposes have long since passed, the buildings still spring to life each time a visitor passes through. It's easy to imagine a blacksmith at work at the Calloway Ranch in the late 1800s, or the faithful tellers who saw The Kern Valley Bank through the Great Depression.
A different view of Kern County's history takes center stage inside the museum's other permanent attraction, Black Gold: The Oil Experience. Here, 9,640 square feet of exhibit space reveal how oil forms deep within the earth, as well as methods for its discovery and production. Other displays profile the workers and historical events that ultimately led to Kern County claiming 64% of California’s oil production.
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.