23ABC Community Connection


April's First Friday Art Walk will feature art inspired by the Kern River

The Bakersfield Art Association has partnered with river advocacy group Bring Back the Kern to highlight the many benefits of keeping the Kern River flowing through Bakersfield year-round.
kern river art
Posted at 9:31 PM, Mar 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-01 00:31:51-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield Art Association has partnered with local environmental advocacy group Bring Back the Kern to raise awareness about the water levels of the Lower Kern River.

Bring Back the Kern believes the river needs to flow continuously, not just in wet years, and they're using artwork to express their message. That art is being exhibited on the feature wall at the Bakersfield Art Association Gallery throughout the month of April.

Many local artists with the Bakersfield Art Association say that the Kern River has been a source of inspirational beauty for generations. That's why Tim McNeely with Bring Back the Kern is excited about the partnership.

"We're so excited about being able to do this and feature art featuring the Kern River at the Bakersfield Art Association. This really came together through collaboration, because we believe that art changes people and art inspires people. That is why we are so excited about this exhibit," said McNeely.

McNeely, a Bakersfield resident for the last 15 years, says he believes art is a powerful way to move a community. Although the recent rainfall has increased the water levels in the Kern River, McNeely believes the issue of keeping it full is not yet solved, and says this artwork showcases just how full and useful it can be.

"We are just getting the excess. We're getting the leftovers of the river, and we believe at Bring Back the Kern that Bakersfield deserves a running Kern River year-long, regardless of what's going on," said McNeely. "That is why art is so important, because it inspires people to see what is possible."

McNeely says the exhibit, "Bringing Back the Kern," is not just about putting water in the river, but it's also about restoring the community's identity, improving the quality of life, and benefitting the local economy.

He adds that for this exhibit, the organization has partnered with numerous artists to "powerfully tell the story and evoke change."

First Friday Artwalk featuring art inspired by the Kern River will happen at the Bakersfield Art Association Gallery located at 1607 19th Street. The exhibition will officially open on April 7 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Attendees will be able to mingle with other Kern River advocates, enjoy beverages from Jin Sushi, and learn about the ongoing work to protect and restore the river from members of Bring Back the Kern.