Bechelli Lane, unlike her neighboring thoroughfares Hilltop, Dana and Cypress, lacks what some claim is a winning score in the game of suburban progress: chain stores, an air-conditioned mall, big-box retailers and the requisite Starbucks, Applebee’s and Panda Express. But it’s the absence of “progress” that sets Bechelli apart from her east-side cousins.
Bechelli’s human-scale buildings make her feel more west-side than east, more urban than suburban, and you’ll soon realize that Bechelli has found a niche that no other part of east Redding can slide into. From Cypress to the edge of her quaint residential district, Bechelli Lane is home to independent businesses, salons, coffee shops, restaurants, and a mind-blowing roster of art galleries and performance spaces – and (hallelujah!), not a chain store in site.
Visitors to Bechelli can eat in family-owned restaurants, be pampered, take an acting class, learn the guitar from a North State musical legend, get their caffeine fix, buy mountain climbing equipment and trade paperback books, all before and after an evening of arts and performance. Bechelli’s artistic gems include Fator’s Frame Shop (home of the Silk Purse Gallery), Image West Gallery, Angelfire Studios, Bernie’s Guitar and the Studio Experience.
So, in recognition of Bechelli’s unique blend of establishments to feed my body and soul, I hereby proclaim that Bechelli Lane is Redding’s “East Side Arts District.”
The newest jewel in the East Side Arts District is the Bohemian Art Loft, a dream-come-true for Nadia Hava-Robbins, a local artist and performer, and her techie husband Peter. Nadia and Peter are founders of The Travelling Bohemians, a collective of actors, authors, artists, poets and dancers who have been performing locally since 1995.
The Bohemians, who have entertained audiences at downtown’s Old City Hall since their inception, are moving their digs to the Art Loft and have outfitted the space with professional theater lighting and sound equipment, acoustic engineering and exhibit space for visual and wearable art. The space can be transformed from gallery to performance space with a switch of the lighting board.
Nadia and Peter see the Loft as a culmination of the work they have done for over a decade, to encourage and sustain the opportunity for alternative and experimental artistic expression. The space will regularly feature professional artists and performers, but they also want the space to be an accessible home base for the up-and-coming.
Regular open mic events will encourage budding performers to dip their toes in the water before a live audience and the gallery will often host group shows for artists who don’t have a large enough body of work for a full-scale gallery exhibit.
So, spend an evening on Bechelli and help support the newly christened East Side Arts District’s family of local retailers, restaurants, galleries and performance spaces. In our community’s “out with the old, in with the new” development strategy, the things that make us unique sometimes get lost in the construction dust.
The Bohemian Art Loft is at 3304-B Bechelli Lane. This weekend’s grand opening celebration for the Bohemian Art Loft features two days of art, puppetry and performance.
Festivities begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sat., May 15. On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., enjoy a concert of folk, blues and Americana by John Brandeburg, Bill Reuss, George Rogers and friends. Sunday, celebrate with art, impromptu performance and refreshments from 3 to 7 p.m. For more information about the Travelling Bohemians, the Bohemian Art Loft and the grand opening festivities, visit travelingbohemians.org.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your North State news and events to firstname.lastname@example.org.