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Bird Dog Arts ready to open at Outlets at Tejon

Amid all the deals and discounts at the Outlets at Tejon, there's a bigger design now at work. Bird Dog Arts, which opens Friday, is bringing an immersive arts experience to the retail space.

David Gordon, managing partner for Bird Dog Arts, said he is excited to present this ever-changing space to the public.

"It will never be the same place twice. It may only be this way for one hour on Thursday night," he said referring to the preview the night before the public opening.

The current layout at Bird Dog Arts features more than 50 California artists, from Humboldt to San Diego, including Ariah Myles Boyle, Cooie Grey-Lavin, Debra Vodhanel, Joseph Heffernan, Ben Young and Tim DeWitt.

Kern County is represented by more than a dozen artists including Gordon, an accomplished landscape painter, photographer Felix Adamo, ceramic artist Yvonne Cavanagh and painter Tim Ellis.

With everything from paintings to sculptures, wood art, ceramics, fabric art, jewelry and hand-crafted leather jackets and accessories, Bird Dog Arts has much to catch the eye of art collectors at all levels.

"We think that it's the totally untapped consumer market," Gordon said of creating this arts space at the outlet center.

That "we" includes Gordon and partners Peter Edelmann and Andy Boyle of EB Development, which is responsible for a similar project, Art Hound Gallery in Essex, Vt., that features work from more than 125 Vermont artists as well as other products produced in the state.

After this project was announced, Gordon went about finding artists to display, employing a variety of introductions and tapping those he had met during his time with the Arts Council of Kern and the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

"I couldn't have done this without my time at the museum ... my time at the Arts Council. So much of my nonprofit experience transferred to profit."

Renovating the 11,000-square-foot space, which is spread across three units, took much of the time with painting and installing tracks and frame rails.

Then the focus shifted to receiving the artwork, which due to shipping delays, has led to a hectic month.

"It's been like Christmas for the last three or four weeks," Gordon said of the deliveries.

With works ranging from $40 for small robots to paintings in the thousands, Bird Dog Arts aims to make art collecting a possibility for everyone.

"Our mission isn't to be Park City," he said, referring to the arts scene in Utah where it's common for pieces to be sold for upwards of $20,000. "It's a lower price point but without lowering quality, so people have access to collecting."

Visitors will be able to come in and view the work or enjoy a break from outlet shopping.

"We have chairs, ottomans," Gordon said. "People can sit for a while."

The space will also be available for event hosting, offering a unique space for receptions and meetings. 

This fall, Bird Dog also plans to host workshops featuring artists associated with the space. (Gordon said any on-site painting on Tejon Ranch Co. property won't be feasible until the weather cools down.)

Bird Dog Arts' website (birddogarts.com) continues to evolve and Gordon said there will be QR codes by the works that will direct you to information about the artists and their pieces.

Early response from curious shoppers and outlet employees who have enjoyed a sneak peek of the space has been positive. 

Gordon said, "This is what we need, they say. It's so experiential and fresh."

Bird Dog Arts is located on the west side of the outlets at 5701 Outlets at Tejon Parkway, Tejon Ranch. For more on the outlets, visit tejonoutlets.com.

Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.