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By Mel White
contributing writer 

Bird Dog Arts in Tejon Outlet Mall

Day Trippin' with Mel


April 30, 2022

Mel White

The Outlet Mall at Tejon has lots of stores, and lots of places to plug in your Tesla.

When you want to visit an art gallery, the first place that comes to mind usually isn't an outlet mall. But that's changing these days.

In the Laughlin Outlet Center in Laughlin, Nevada there is a wonderful gallery called the Florida D. Grecco Fine Art Gallery, named for the owner. On my last trip out that way I met Florida and had a great little visit with her. If it were closer to Tehachapi, I'd go there to check out the art more often than the two or three times a year I get to Laughlin. The gallery is a must see every time I am there.

Meanwhile, thanks to a friend, I've recently discovered a much closer gallery in the Tejon Outlet Mall just north of Grapevine and south of where the 99 and I-5 merge at the edge of the San Joaquin Valley – the Bird Dog Art gallery.

The friend who suggested we visit the gallery, Judith Campanaro, an artist and art teacher, and another artist pal, Jane Zeok, and I planned a day trip there to check it out a couple of weeks ago. Judy was staying with Jane in Rosamond (before moving to the east coast) so I headed out on Willow-Springs Road to scoop them up on a Wednesday morning.

From Jane's house we headed to the Poppy Preserve first (as from there it was sort of on our way) and we were not disappointed – lots of poppies were still popping up all around the preserve. From there we came back to Avenue D and headed west (Avenue D is also Highway 138), where we also saw many great patches of poppies, goldfield, lupine and other colorful wildflowers.

From the 138 we headed north on the I-5 at Gorman (where the hills were covered with even more wildflowers) for a short drive to the Outlet Mall. Our first order of business there was lunch at the Black Bear Diner, a very yummy and filling experience, and then on to the mall.

The gallery (located next to Rackroom Shoes, which is visible from the parking lot) is quite impressive and bursting with creative color and energy. The manager of the place, David Gordon (who used to be Judy's boss when they both worked at Kern Arts Council in Bakersfield) has done a wonderful job of collecting a wide variety of beautiful artworks from an impressive group of California artists and artisans.

Bird Dog Arts takes up three store spaces, some 11,000 square feet, and is the first of its kind in the area – a nontraditional gallery space that strives to "make art collecting a mainstream opportunity that was once considered possible only for the wealthy." It's a beautiful, comfortable and welcoming space for everyone.

Featuring both established and upcoming artists in permanent display spaces, the gallery also offers different themed shows with guest artists. The show right now is called "Hindsight" (presented by the California Art Club and Bird Dog Arts) and highlights pandemic themed art, a presentation that is a visual treat that taps into a plethora of emotions.

Mel White

Visual art comes in all sizes, shapes and colors at Bird Dog Arts Gallery.

It's worth a trip over that way to see the gallery, and if you're so inclined, there are many other shops in the outlet mall for your shopping and dining pleasures. It's easy to spend an afternoon or more just trying to take it all in. We spent a lot of time in the gallery and had not much energy left over to see any of the other shops, which means another trip soon I'm sure.

If you want to go the most direct route from Tehachapi, skip the Antelope Valley and instead take the 58 West to the Arvin turn off, which is Highway 223. Go through Arvin, and then you have a choice. You can go on 223 to the 99 South to the Tejon Outlet Mall exit, or from 223 at the Shell station you can turn south on Wheeler Ridge Road, which is a two-lane highway that will take you directly to the mall.

© 2022 Marilda Mel White. Mel White (aka Mel Makaw), local writer, photographer and avid day-tripper, welcomes your comments, questions, and suggestions at


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