I am proud to say that a few days ago lomography.com posted a little interview with me about the gallery and boutique. I am honored, thanks so much for the publicity! :-)
Amanda Magnetta, creative whirlwind and owner and operator of Bear & Bird Gallery (upstairs in Tate’s Comics) in Lauderhill, Florida knows a thing or two about art, style, and a DIY approach to life. Bear & Bird Gallery hosts awesome art shows, creative craft classes, and of course has a shop full of hand picked, aesthetically conscious goods. The gallery is a place for the community to connect, express, and inspire. We caught up with Lady Magnetta about her life in and out of the gallery, her inspirations, and her two adorable canine companions.
So, Why “Bear & Bird”?
When I was trying to come up with a name for the gallery/boutique space I was really stumped. I can’t tell you how many times I looked through the dictionary and thesaurus! Since our space is located in an upstairs loft area inside of TATE’S Comics (Established 1993, when my husband Tate was 17!) I originally tried to incorporate the word “TATE” into the name, but Gallery DecapiTATE just didn’t evoke the feeling I wanted! One morning inspiration struck me and I went over the my computer to see if the bearandbird.com was available! It was! Bear and Bird was born… it was perfect. You see, Bear and Bird are the nicknames my parents have called each other my whole life. My dad is “Bear” and my mom is “Bird” – I’ve never heard them call each other by their real names. As an added bonus, the two animals work beautifully as a visual and it has alliteration. Who doesn’t love alliteration?!
Most impressive work on your walls in the past year?
That’s a tough one! Our newest show “Yokai in Your Eye” is going to have a TON of amazing stuff in it. Technically, it isn’t on the walls yet (opens June 14), so I won’t count that one. Looking back, most recently I have to say that I was really impressed by a couple of pieces done by Sarah J. Pierce and Johnny Winslow. For our “Cute Attack” show (March 08); Sarah J. made a giant polaroid quilt! It featured a bear, a bird and a girl hanging out at a party and was inspired by a polaroid she found on Flickr. She even had giant thumbtacks to hang it on the wall with. For that same exhibition, Johnny did a painting called Teddysburg, which featured teddy bears and sock monkeys in the Battle of Gettysburg. The idea was a great take on the show’s theme and it was rendered beautifully in oil and colored pencil on wood. People got a real kick out of it too!
Favorite place on earth to bring your camera? Got the picture to prove it?
The first time I visit anywhere on vacation is always the best! On my first trip to Vegas a few years ago I think I took four hundred photos. We visited Red Rock Canyon and the Hoover Dam in addition to all the crazy Vegas-y sights! Most recently though, I went to the Bahamas and brought my new crushproof-waterproof digital camera. We went to the awesome waterpark at Atlantis and I took it on all the slides and the rapids. All the other tourists were so jealous that I had a small camera that I could take underwater! ...and yes, I have HUNDREDS of pictures to prove it! I really have fun doing ‘experimental’ underwater photography. I can also proudly say that I was even a test user for the Frogeye and there is a photo of me in the booklet!
Got a super secret beach retreat spot?
Whenever possible Tate and I love to take an hour and half drive north to Jupiter. They have a fantastic dog-friendly beach there. Most dog beaches are pretty rocky and undesirable, since dogs are ‘second class citizens’, but this one is gorgeous! It has huge beach area with lovely soft sand. Both my adorable mutts love to dig holes to lay in and swim like furry little fish. Jupiter’s dog beach is not a secret, really, but it is definitely under appreciated… I wish it was closer!!
Favorite comic book character? Why?
It has been forever since I read it, but the one comic book character that most influenced my life was Hillary from the 3 issue Kitchen Sink series “The Dung Boys” – I loved the book and sent a letter to the writer/artist, Robb Conaway. This was over ten years ago and we’re still friends! We used to write each other elaborate letters via snail mail, but now we just email a quick hello once in a while. He’s my oldest friend whom I’ve never met in person, though I think someday our paths will inevitably cross.
Latest inspiration you just can’t seem to shake?
I’m not really sure how to answer this one… honestly, I get so much inspiration from all the artists that I am fortunate enough to work with and show in the gallery. I wouldn’t want to shake it, where would I be without them all?! Just a bunch of lousy blank walls, I guess. When coming up with ideas for upcoming shows, I just pluck them from the ether…. and by ether, I guess I mean my subconscious which is made up of my life experiences and obsessions past and present.
What’s the best place to find unique clothing in or around Lauderhill?
That’s a tough one. We actually sell some great t-shirts from Design By Humans and tokidoki here at Bear and Bird, other than that everything around town is mostly mass-produced and not really unique. If I want something unique, I go to etsy! You can find the most amazing, handmade, totally unique clothing there. We have a GIANT mall right nearby (Sawgrass Mills) and I’ll go there sometimes and maybe find one thing that I like enough to buy, I really enjoy browsing and people watching though!
Coolest craft class you’ve ever participated in?
This year we started holding monthly craft classes here at Bear and Bird! It is called StitchBird Workshops and it is run in collaboration with another Amanda who puts together the fantastic yearly craft extravaganza, StitchRock. Last months StitchBird Workshop taught us how to use a household iron to fuse layers of plastic shopping bags together, which melts them into a surprisingly durable tyvek-like material. We then used our plastic fabric to make wallets and pouches!
Hottest spot in town to grab a cool drink?
If we’re talking booze – I’d say you can’t miss visiting the historic Mai-Kai’s Molokai Bar during happy hour. You really can’t go wrong with 2 for 1 fancy tropical drinks in an amazing tiki bar! Definitely a great spot for picture taking too!!
Exactly what species of bear & bird do you imagine as the official mascots of the gallery?
I don’t know exactly what they ARE, but I know what they’re NOT! The bird is not an ostrich or penguin and the bear isn’t a teddy bear or a hairy guy! I have commissioned (and come across) quite a bit of artwork featuring a bear and bird and I leave it up to the individual artist to determine the exact species, they’re all good! Come to think of it, an ostrich wouldn’t be so bad! It definitely isn’t a vulture though, those are gross looking, too pink and fleshy.
We’re working on getting the Bear and Bird online shop setup! We actually have the start of something good now and will be building on it over the next few months, I want to be ready for holiday shopping season! I also plan on getting into publishing and doing more exclusive Bear and Bird merchandise lines, t-shirts, totes and jewelry… Personally, I’d love to spend some time learning embroidery and watercolor painting, as well as turning my backyard into a plant filled garden habitat!