Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Bird Dog Arts in Tejon Outlet Mall

Day Trippin' with Mel

Mel Makaw.

David Gordon, owner/manager of Bird Dog Arts, hangs new art (like this hand painted mandala) for the next show, opening June 22.

I've been anxious to get back to the Tejon Outlet Mall to revisit the Bird Dog Arts Gallery and I finally got to do so a couple of weeks ago. Three friends and I all got together to go: Julee, Leila, and Lauraine had never been to the Tejon Mall at all, and I've only been there once (two years ago). It was one of the hottest days in June to date when we set out one midmorning for a fun day of friendship and discovery.

Mel Makaw.

Photography by John Grisbach.

It only took us about an hour to get there – the mall is located south of Bakersfield where Highway 99 and I-5 meet – so we opted to have lunch before shopping. The area on the west side of the freeway merge has a number of restaurants and just about any fast-food place you can think of; we opted for In-and-Out burgers. Yum!

After lunch we made our way back across the freeway to park under the giant Tejon Outlet sign, which I knew was near Bird Dog Arts and several shoe stores, which were of interest to my friends.

Located next to Rackroom Shoes, which is visible from the parking lot, Bird Dog Arts is quite impressive and bursting with creative color and energy, just as I remembered it. The manager of the place, David Gordon, has done a wonderful job of collecting a wide variety of beautiful artworks representing all media, from an impressive group of more than 150 California artists and artisans.

The gallery 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, according to Gordon, 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, including kids.

Throughout the gallery at any given time you can find all kinds of art, including all media paintings, photography, plein air paintings, other wall art, sculptures, found object and repurposed object art, cards, magnets, miniatures, ceramics, wood turning, metal art, leather, fiber arts, bottle art, polymer clay, journals, prints, and some works that don't fit into any particular artistic category. It's a colorful world of creativity at its finest.

Mel Makaw.

Fiber arts by Tim DeWitt at Bird Dog Arts gallery.

Mel Makaw.

Found in a tree in the parking lot, a friendly black and white cat named Turkey has made the Bird Dog Arts gallery his home.

Featuring both established and new artists in permanent display spaces with all those different art forms, the gallery also offers different themed shows with guest artists. Next up is an all-women show, which opens with a reception on June 22 (5:30-7:30 p.m.). The "summer show" will feature "five fabulously talented female artists of California" and will run through Sept. 22 with works that include "painting, metal work, textiles, mixed media – this show has it all." Following that will be an all-male artists' show for the fall season.

Not being big shoppers, Lauraine and I opted to spend the whole time in the gallery enjoying the art, while Leila and Julee went in search of shoes and checking out some other stores. Unfortunately, they didn't find "any real bargains" out there, but Leila did end up coming home with a beautiful piece of art that she got at Bird Dog Arts.

Before we left the area we had a little afternoon dessert at the Black Bear Diner – individual pies and a brownie sundae – which was another Yum!

Mel Makaw.

Sculpture by Quincy Grace.

The most direct route to the Tejon Outlet Mall (5701 Outlets at Tejon Pkwy., Arvin) from Tehachapi is Highway 58 West to the Arvin turn off, which is Highway 223. Take 223 on through Arvin, and then you have a choice at the country round-about by a Shell station: you can stay on 223 to the 99 South to the Tejon Outlet Mall exit, or at the round-about you can turn south on Wheeler Ridge Road, which is a two-lane highway that will take you directly to the mall. We chose the Wheeler Ridge Road route and enjoyed driving through all the growing green agriculture fields.

You can find a list of the stores at the Tejon Outlet Mall online at tejonoutlets.com and more about the Bird Dog Gallery at http://www.birddogarts.com/.

© 2024 Mel Makaw. Mel, local writer, photographer and avid day-tripper, welcomes your comments, questions, and suggestions at [email protected]/.