Contemporary art space and bookstore opens downtown

A new bookstore and contemporary art space opened for business in downtown Anchorage last week.

Bivy’s grand opening for First Friday featured Germany-based anthropologist 76 seconds) Alicja Khatchikian’s photos of a 2015 trip to Alaska in a show called “Denali Thai Food.”

Khathchikian’s photos show a first-time visitor’s impressions of the expansive wilderness of the state punctuated by traces of human influence and the conflicting emotions that arise.

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Books sit on a shelf at Bivy, a new contemporary art space and bookstore specializing in independent publishers. Photo credit: Ammon Swenson

The owner of Bivy, Simonetta Mignano, wanted the first show to have a softer concept than what she might have in the future. She plans to have semi-regular shows in the space that sits between the Quilted Raven and Lepi de Paris on G Street.

Mignano has a background in both contemporary art and independent publishing. Originally from Turin, Italy, she’s travelled all over Europe while working in the small print industry.

“I love books and I love contemporary art, so that’s why in my past I approached those things,” Mignano said.

She met her husband while in Eastern Europe and after a few years of living in Italy, they moved to Alaska, his home state.

Bivy’s small bookstore specializes in independent publishers from Europe and North America. The publications range from photo books, essays on art and culture, to art books in the literal sense.

Mignano is drawn to the experimental aspect of independent publishing as there’s the freedom to take books deeper into the realm of art. Every year, she said, there are new artists and new publications trying to reinvent what is possible when creating a book.

The books in Bivy contrast with mainstream publications in that they’re almost all first editions from limited runs and usually signed by the author. Granted, you might not know who any of the authors are, but Mignano finds independent publications more meaningful than mass-produced ones.

“That’s what I love, that’s what I like and they’re really interesting publications. They’re really special,” Mignano said.

Bivy is located at 419 G St. and is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 – 6 p.m.