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Northwest Crossing goes contemporary 

Notice, no jumping trout or nesting eagles. It's been seven months since Andy Wachs and Colleen Dougherty began the process of creating a contemporary art

click to enlarge Notice, no jumping trout or nesting eagles.
  • Notice, no jumping trout or nesting eagles.
Notice, no jumping trout or nesting eagles. It's been seven months since Andy Wachs and Colleen Dougherty began the process of creating a contemporary art gallery in Northwest Crossing.

Upon setting foot inside the bright studio space, it's hard to believe that Wachs and Dougherty still consider Bend Independent Contemporary Art (BICA) a work in progress. With so many art galleries in downtown Bend, you might wonder why one should care about a new gallery in Northwest Crossing when you can easily hit up most of the downtown galleries in one wine-sipping fell swoop the first Friday of each month. Well, here's why you should care: While this gallery is somewhat out of the way, the artists on display have real talent (not to mention a great deal of them are local and regional residents), the gallery owners are probably some of the nicest people you'll ever meet and if you're still stuck on the wine issue, if you asked Wachs and Dougherty, they would probably be more than happy to serve you a beverage or two.

"We really wanted to be off the grid and make [the gallery] more of a destination," says Wachs. The husband and wife team chose the location for several reasons, one being that they live in the Northwest Crossing area, another being the accessibility to parking and a ground-level location because Dougherty is in a wheelchair and finally, a space that was contemporary, plain and moldable.

"It was nice to get a space that was in a vanilla shell and then build it to our specifications," explains Dougherty.

Wachs and Dougherty have been living in Bend for eight and six years, respectively, and had always been interested in opening a gallery. Wachs is a local artist whose work many Bendites probably pass by every day without even knowing it-the crane sculpture (entitled "Ghost") situated in the roundabout in the Old Mill District between Wilson and Bond. The pair wanted to open a contemporary art space in the community that would represent local, regional and national artists.

"We found that there wasn't a gallery dedicated exclusively to contemporary art," says Dougherty. "We really wanted to promote emerging local artists as well as provide a gallery that is very welcoming, open to everyone and gives everyone the chance to view and purchase contemporary art."

"There's a big art scene here that has yet to be tapped into, and that's part of what we're trying to do here," adds Wachs. "We really want to provide an urban, contemporary experience."

BICA is currently exhibiting 10 different artists through mid November and the walls of the gallery are covered with a variety of distinctive works. On one wall you'll see Scott Conary's ode to all things carnivorous - detailed paintings of things like raw drumsticks and lamp chops. On another wall you'll see a collection of oil paintings by Lisa Copenhagen Wachs or Justyn Livingston's mixed media works. While it should be overwhelming, it's not. Somehow all the different pieces work with each other and create a unique but scintillating visual experience for anyone who walks into the gallery.

While the space is still being developed, Wachs and Dougherty hope to one day be able to create a space where a single artist can use the gallery as a studio for a few weeks and then once the residency is complete, show the finished products in the same space they were created.

"The paint may be wet, but it [will be] the most direct application I've seen done," says Wachs.

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