In this new “Gallery Spotlight” series, we’ll be featuring art galleries that are continuing to keep their doors open – in at least a virtual sense, that is.
This week’s spotlight is with Jim Peterson, co-owner of Mockingbird Gallery in Bend, Oregon. The gallery represents 45-50 established representational artists from across the United States. They feature work in many various mediums including oil, pastel, acrylic, egg tempera, gouache, watercolor, bronze, wood, glass.
Cherie Dawn Haas: What’s your biggest priority at this time? Over the next year?
Mockingbird Gallery: We are staying in communication with all of our artists and making sure they know we are here for them in any way that helps. We are also working hard to create a beautiful catalog that will be mailed out in late May/early June advertising our 30th Anniversary Celebration show. I’m excited to have a quality mailing land in the hands of our friends and collectors at a time when they will be looking to possibly add to their collections. We will just need to push forward over the reminder of this year as close to our usual process as possible. We are looking forward to being able to unlock the gallery to the public, but only when it’s safe and makes sense.
What adjustments have you made as a gallery since the outbreak?
We have had to figure out ways to reach out to our collectors without having the doors open to our gallery. Our monthly e-newsletter, which we have been mailing out for 8 or 9 years, has a great following. We are able to continue with our established 2020 show schedule, and we are able to photograph the feature works as they are on display in the gallery. This allows our followers an opportunity to experience the gallery in a very natural state. We have also been allowing tours of the gallery on appointment, which has been popular with some of our locals.
What advice do you have for collectors as they navigate these times, and beyond?
We are hearing from our collectors and they are very interested in what’s going on here at the gallery. I just let them know that things are going to be alright. We’re not going anywhere and we will continue to promote the artists they love throughout these challenging times. I’ve been happy to encourage art buyers to continue to collect during the downturn, but only if they feel comfortable doing so. These are smart and passionate people we are dealing with and they already understand that a purchase during a time like this is reassuring to the gallery and the artists. We know we have their support and we’re grateful to have strong and lasting relationships.
Anything else you’d like to add about the current issues galleries are navigating?
I think as a gallery owner, it is important to be here throughout the week and make sure you are available. We can manage our businesses with the doors locked and be socially responsible at the same time. Stay close to what you are so passionate about. You can go to work, call artists, plan shows, contact collectors and be surrounded by good medicine at the same time. I have personally been using this time to return older works to many of our artists and request fresh offerings at the same time. Many artists are now without some of the shows they have relied on to support their careers, so they are eager to work with their gallery in creative ways to continue to market and reach buyers. I’m also a big fan of Instagram and love the way it allows us all to stay in touch and share the good news when artwork sells. (Follow Mockingbird Gallery on Instagram here.)
What are some of the ways you find artists to represent?
We have so many ways that we are connecting with artists today. Instagram is actually a great way to make connections. It’s a wonderful tool for a gallery to follow many talented artists on Instagram and perhaps occasionally identify someone you would like to visit with about representation. It also works both ways. We know that many talented artists follow us as well and we like to make sure we keep our Instagram page alive and fresh.
We also receive emailed submissions on a regular basis and we try really hard to get back to anyone who has taken the time to do that. It’s always an honor to be contacted by a talented artist regarding representation. At this time we probably only bring in one or two new artists a year and we have been using a page on our website to also highlight a small group of guest artists. That can be a great way to get to know an artist better and also provide your collectors with more options. Our website is very organized and easy to navigate. I believe that offers any potential new artists an opportunity in advance to see how we operate our gallery.
Regarding your exhibitions, do you have a current online show?
Our current show is for Colorado-based, Western artist, John DeMott. We have been successful at selling his new oils by promoting his fresh works through the website, newsletter, and Instagram.
To learn more about Mockingbird Gallery, please visit mockingbird-gallery.com.
Stay tuned as we continue to feature contemporary art galleries here.