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The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

Mockingbird Gallery in downtown Bend is an inviting, creative space

Photo by Roman Russell

Ayla Adkins/The Broadside

Downtown Bend is home to many unique shops, restaurants, stores, and galleries. Mockingbird Gallery, off Wall Street by the breezeway, is teeming with life as it rolls around to its new 2021 event series. 

Husband-wife duo Jim and Nathalie Peterson own the gallery. They bought the gallery about 14 years ago and have owned it for nearly half of its existence, said Jim Peterson. 

The two of them work together to make the gallery function successfully. Nathalie said that she is “more of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ person” as she manages all “the paperwork, the artists’ biographies.” She also coordinates their newsletters and press releases. If it has to do with organization, Nathalie is the one behind it.

Jim, on the other hand, “is very hands-on with artists,” said Nathalie. “He hangs the art, sells the pieces, and works with the public.” Jim chimed in and said that he is “kinda the extrovert here.”

“I am the front line guy,” he said. “I love to talk to people, and I am very enthusiastic about building the artist group.”

When it comes to the gallery store, both Jim and Nathalie are a team. 

“We really balance it out, and that is what makes it work,” said Jim. 

Nathalie agreed and said that “We have fun together.”

They have worked hard to build Mockingbird Gallery’s reputation and quality of work, now housing nearly 60 artists from the original 6 that they inherited. Jim explained that as they grew the group and added more variety, they also drew in some pretty big names. This includes “some nationally collective artists that have honored us with their work,” he said. 

“It is a lot of work to represent a large group and show all of them,” said Jim. “When we take a new artist on, we commit to giving them quality representation.” 

This means that Mockingbird has to be very careful with who they choose to work with and has to organize when each artist is shown since they “don’t have the room to show them all,” said Nathalie Peterson.

But everything they show is sure to capture the public’s attention as Mockingbird has both sculpture and flat art. 

Nathalie said that they had added new sculptures within the past few years. She said that their “number one 3D artist is Dan Chen. He is also an artist in our top 5 sales.”

Some people come in and are “completely enamored with the flat art, they walk straight past the sculpture. But sometimes, it is the exact opposite,” said Jim. He thinks that “many galleries focus too much on what you hang on the wall versus what is on a pedestal.”

When discussing how often the art gets refreshed, Nathalie said, “It never stays the same” since every month, the art gets moved around. The art that doesn’t sell is either “stored in the backroom or get ‘flopped’ back to the artist in exchange for some fresher pieces,” said Jim. 

Jim said that it is “not unusual for us to [reluctantly] give back a piece or two. Or we may love something so much that we will hold on to it and find the right home.”

The art gets refreshed so often because Mockingbird Gallery holds events nearly every month where a new focus is presented. This year they have 10 shows scheduled. 

They have two open months in February and November to ensure that they can start and end the year with outstanding quality, which requires a bit extra time. 

Each new event opens up on the first Friday of each month from 5-8 p.m and is then open for public viewing until the next event rolls around. You can pick up an event calendar in the gallery to ensure you never miss an outstanding show and get a sneak peek at each event.

Mockingbird Gallery adores Bend and makes it a goal to be as community-friendly as possible, “We are an anti-snobby gallery,” Jim said. “Everyone is welcome. There are no stupid questions, and you don’t have to buy anything.”

After all, Jim and Nathalie moved to Bend many years ago because they loved the community so much. 

“When we moved here and bought the business, we found out how wonderful Bend was. We are at the heart of all energy in Downtown,” said Jim. “We have the most wonderful opportunity to be part of this community.”

Together they took a leap of faith and pursued their passion. They have raised their family here but have also created their own family at Mockingbird Gallery. 

Jim explained the importance of having people they can rely on at work and how they have found those individuals and are thankful for their energy and passion. Jim said that they “have some really special people at the two different galleries.”

Two galleries? Yes, two galleries. Mockingbird Gallery was Jim and Nathalie’s main focus for a long time. But, they felt that “Bend was in need of some type of contemporary art space,” said Jim.

That is why they created PCA, Peterson Contemporary Art. PCA recently reached four years old, and they finally feel like it is standing up on its own two feet since last year was their best year yet, said Jim. He also lovingly said that “PCA is our alter ego.” Peterson Contemporary Art is located underneath Silverado Jewelry Gallery, on NW Wall Street and NW Oregon Avenue. It is accessible by a set of stairs that leads you down to the gallery door. 

Mockingbird Gallery has the goal of being an inviting creative space for all individuals. This community has become the gallery’s family, “Natalie and I are surrounded by some very talented people. Our artists, our employees, our family,” said Jim. 

Mockingbird Gallery is open 7 days a week, and you can visit their website at [email protected].

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