Between Art Basel, Art Palm Beach, and the American International Fine Art Fair -- plus dozens of galleries from West Palm to Wynwood -- South Florida's well-heeled art collectors are pretty well covered. That leaves room for niche galleries like Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery in Lauderhill to cater to fledgling art buyers and up-and-coming artists.
"Our goal is to introduce people who don't collect to how they can create a collection," said Amanda Magnetta-Ottati, co-owner of the 700-square-foot gallery located on the second floor of the ever-popular Tate's Comics. "We have lower priced art that's good."
The gallery opened in 2007 and has showcased a mix of South Florida and national artists, some of whom had their first show in the budget-friendly gallery. Magnetta-Ottati said she is happy to see artists "outgrow" the gallery -- whether in stature or commanding price -- and said "I think they look back fondly on their time with us."
As Bear and Bird has come into its own, Magnetta-Ottati said the gallery is starting to build a local collector base. Art fans know to anticipate shows featuring artists who are "new enough and talented enough" to be both affordable and worthwhile, she said.
"They've seen over the years that I can find people when they're at the start of their careers," Magnetta-Ottati said.
The gallery's current show, "Girls vs. Boys," has a straight-forward but playful theme. Four female artists (Sashiko "wishcandy" Yuen, Mab Graves, Danielle Estefan, and Erika Taguchi-Newton) go head-to-head with four male artists (Ryan Hungerford, Tripper Dungan, Greg Kletsel, and Aurian Redson) on the gallery walls. Magnetta-Ottati asked the artists to submit their best work and the results, 50 in all, were enlightening: "They were really true to their genders." Pieces in the show are priced anywhere from $20 to $775 and some of the pieces are available in the Bear and Bird online store.
Upcoming shows stick to the gallery's theme of serving both local artists and art buyers. "Starter Art 2" runs April 26 to June 22 and features pieces priced at $100 or less, for the "beginning collector." Later in the summer is "The Little Golden Years: Modern Artwork Inspired by our Favorite Golden Books." The show -- June 28 to August 10 -- is guest curated by Heidi Kenney, of My Paper Crane fame. Participating artists will receive a vintage Little Golden Book from the gallery and are asked to reinterpret the books as if they were illustrating for them today. The big fall show, "Mysteries of the Unexplained: Exploring the Supernatural," is a "local artists mega show" open to South Florida artists of all ages.
"Girls vs. Boys" continues through April 20 at Bear and Bird, which is located at 4566 N. University Drive in Lauderhill.