Bakersfield City Council plans to commission record-breaking artwork
October 5 — The town of Bakersfield hits the record books.
On Wednesday, city council will consider ordering two paintings that would be the longest of their type. One proposed painting, a 350-foot depiction of the Kern River, would be the longest ever painting of a river canal in contemporary art. The other, a 150-foot tribute to the Bakersfield Police Department, is said to be the longest painting of a blue ribbon.
“For the city, this represents a bit of investment in art and culture, but it also brings a tourist approach and an avenue for the city,” said assistant general manager Kevin Truelson. “I think this is a great opportunity to shed some light on Bakersfield.”
Artist John Barge III proposed the idea to the city in June, about a year after moving from Pomona to Bakersfield. Passionate about boxing, he made portraits of Muhammad Ali and his daughter Laila, in addition to other boxers. Recently, he completed a 38-foot-long citrus painting for the town of Pomona in another attempt to break a world record.
Bakersfield’s two plays are said to be the largest he has ever made. He said the idea was inspired soon after moving to Bakersfield and exploring the area.
“Bakersfield has so much that I can’t explain it. It’s a melting pot, it’s different. It really was the Wild West,” he said. “The pandemic kind of made me realize that things are changing and Bakersfield is that change. And I had this epiphany where I thought I was going to make a Guinness World Record.”
The Kern River painting will describe the history of Bakersfield on either side of the river, which should flow down the middle of the canvas. In a similar design, the BPD paint will feature a long blue ribbon running down the middle. A BPD badge will be placed at one end, with the department’s history painted on the sides.
The paintings are slated to include precious metals. The BPD logo would be painted with 24 karat gold leaf. Kern River’s painting is said to use gold leaf throughout as well, but there are plans to include diamonds, Swarovski crystals, and other gemstones as well.
The artist will also use durable paint infused with coffee and pomegranate for the artwork.
“It’s a world record that’s never been made before, and Bakersfield is his home,” said Barge. “I’m really inspired. I want to do this.”
The city has proposed an allocation of $ 30,000 for the project. Approval was entered in the consent portion of the agenda, which is reserved for items that city officials deem non-controversial.
An eight-month deadline has been set for the completion of the two tables. If approved by council, public viewing areas would be established for residents of Bakersfield to watch the artist at work.
The city has not stopped at the final housing for the works of art once completed, but expects to place them inside the city buildings accessible to the public.
“Once it is finished,” said Truelson, “the artwork will be here in the town of Bakersfield until the end of time.”
You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You can also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.