Come this summer, the Outlets at Tejon won’t just be the place to go for fresh kicks and housewares. Bird Dog Arts, a new art experience, will challenge preconceived notions of a gallery space.
In fact, don't call it a gallery. Like so much going up in Tejon Ranch Co.'s development, there are big plans.
Leading the creative endeavor is artist David Gordon, who has held leadership roles at the Bakersfield Museum of Art and, most recently, the Arts Council of Kern, where he is executive director until he steps down in February for this new position.
He will be managing partner, teaming with Peter Edelmann and Andy Boyle of EB Development, which has a similar project, Art Hound Gallery in Essex, Vt., which features work from more than 125 Vermont artists as well other products produced in the state.
Gordon said he was invited by Barry Zoeller, Tejon Ranch spokesman, to a meeting with Edelmann and Boyle last year to discuss the possibilities.
"I exploded at the table with a trillion ideas," he said of the discussion. "I flew to Vermont and looked at the space there, and said, 'We can do this on a bigger scale.'"
"I can't even sleep at night."
Bird Dog Arts will occupy a nearly 11,000-square-foot space and feature creations by more than 250 California artists and craftsmen, ranging from master artisans to emerging talent.
“Bird Dog Arts will add a unique element to the variety of experiences for our customers and travelers to enjoy and simultaneously supports the community of California artists,” Rebecca Swiggum, marketing director of The Outlets at Tejon, said in a news release.
With an eye on opening this summer, site work will begin in earnest as soon as an outlet retailer relocates from its current space that will be taken over by Bird Dog.
Planning for a rotating mural area as well as classes and receptions in the space, Gordon said he doesn't think there's anything quite like this in California.
"It is way more than a gallery and that's why we're not calling it a gallery. We're hoping this becomes a model for other areas, to continue this new retail experience."
"I've always said art is a vocation like anything else. I've always worked to get artists paychecks. This is another step in that goal for me."
Expecting to offer work in a variety of mediums — paintings, sculpture, glass, jewelry and textiles — in varying price points, Gordon said the space will make art collecting more accessible to a wider audience.
"This is in Kern County. You’re getting this really high quality of California art where it is accessible to everybody. What I keep pressing is art is as important and a necessity as the other things that are available there (at the outlets) — clothing and purses, etc. Why wouldn't this be available, too?"
Gordon expects to have a website and contact information for interested artists in the coming months. For more on the outlets, visit tejonoutlets.com.