Bherd is a special place. It's pronounced "be heard," but if you say it like "bird," owners Michele and John Osgood are okay with that, too. (Birds have turned out to be a theme for several artists associated with the gallery.) Michele is the friendly, collaborative, and organized gallery director, and she also maintains a blog devoted not only to Bherd happenings but also to "urban and contemporary art" across the Northwest.
John is a talented painter who can create compelling surfaces containing mythic but relatable characters. He creates both studio and street works that blend graphic-influenced figuration and atmospheric abstraction. And he paints collaboratively, with artists like CASH and others.
TIGHT AS A DUTCH MASTER But you know him as the Seattle artist Ego.
Their greater goal, beyond sharing what they make, is to create a space for their kind of work. In some ways, it's easier to say what their work is not rather than what it is, because it's pretty diverse. It's not academic, dusty, or dry. This is not to say that the "urban and contemporary art" of Bherd is good and the art of MFA programs is bad. There's plenty of bad and predictability to go around in any given category of art. But Bherd represents a type of energy Seattle would be lost without.
It involves monsters and robots and low riders and rainy streets and animals with naked-lady bodies. It involves characters like the artist Marty Gordon, a former minister whose collages are layered with references to holy books as well as outer space. Some of the painters who show at Bherd work loose and flowing (Kate Protage, Chris Sheridan), while others are tight as Dutch masters (Ego, Joe Vollan).