American Art Collector - - Art City Focus - By Kelly Skeen

Known by many as the gem of cen­tral Ore­gon, Bend is a healthy mix of small-town rus­tic charm and vi­brant ur­ban en­ergy. The year­round re­sort com­mu­nity is Ore­gon’s play­ground, at­tract­ing city-dwellers who find respite in Bend’s strik­ing nat­u­ral beauty and world-class out­door re­cre­ation. Bi­sected by the ac­tive Deschutes River and shad­owed by the Cas­cade Moun­tain Range, Bend boasts some of the Pa­cific North­west’s most al­lur­ing out­door ameni­ties. The high qual­ity of life re­spon­si­ble

for Bend’s ever-in­creas­ing tourism is now draw­ing an in­flux of new res­i­dents; af­flu­ent sec­ond-home­own­ers and en­er­gized young pro­fes­sion­als are seep­ing into the area and bring­ing with them the cre­ative ur­ban en­ergy of Port­land, San Fran­cisco and other large cul­tural hubs of the West. So far Bend is main­tain­ing its quaint, moun­tain-town feel, just with an added cos­mopoli­tan over­lay. Along with cre­ative eater­ies, high-end re­tail­ers and a leg­endary “ale trail,” the most ex­cit­ing out­come of Bend’s re­cent growth is its emerg­ing arts and cul­ture com­mu­nity.

“We came to Bend solely based on rep­u­ta­tion

and ru­mors,” says Jim Peter­son, who owns Mock­ing­bird Gallery in down­town Bend with his wife Natalie Peter­son. “Once we got a feel for it, we rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial for this to de­velop into a thriv­ing art mar­ket.” Peter­son, who has a 20-year his­tory as a dealer in the Scotts­dale art world, pur­chased Mock­ing­bird in 2007 and has been grow­ing the fine art gallery’s foot­print ever since with a widen­ing client base and es­teemed artist ros­ter. The gallery’s suc­cess is in part due to the city’s growth and sub­se­quent in­creased arts ini­tia­tives, which Peter­son fore­saw more than 10 years ago. “We wanted to ben­e­fit from an

up-and-com­ing mar­ket­place,” he says on the de­ci­sion to move to Bend. “The Pa­cific North­west doesn’t re­ally have its des­ti­na­tion mar­ket, and I don’t see any rea­son why Bend can’t fill that need.”

Mock­ing­bird’s aes­thetic is tra­di­tional yet rel­e­vant; no­table ex­hibit­ing artists in­clude Liz Wolf, San­dra Pratt and John DeMott, among other re­gional and na­tional painters and sculp­tors. On De­cem­ber 7, Mock­ing­bird opens their an­nu­ally an­tic­i­pated ex­hi­bi­tion for Mon­tana palette knife painter Troy Collins.

While Peter­son’s ex­per­tise is rep­re­sen­ta­tional fine art, he rec­og­nized Bend’s need

for a mod­ern art out­let. In 2016, Peter­son teamed up with one of Mock­ing­bird’s more con­tem­po­rary painters, Ken Roth, to open Peter­son Roth Gallery just a few blocks away. Peter­son Roth is an in­ti­mate and con­tem­po­rary space filled with high­qual­ity mod­ern artists that in­clude painters Re­becca Haines and Sandy Os­trau, sculp­tors Chris­tian Bur­chard and Ge­of­frey Gor­man, and more. Roth di­rects the gallery, which also fea­tures his ab­stracted land­scapes.

Just last Novem­ber, At Lib­erty Arts Col­lab­o­ra­tive opened in the His­toric Lib­erty The­ater giv­ing Bend its sec­ond con­tem­po­rary art hub in the down­town

dis­trict. At Lib­erty hosts ro­tat­ing ex­hi­bi­tions for cut­ting-edge artists whose work is in­tel­lec­tu­ally in­no­va­tive. The lat­ter is a good de­scrip­tor of the or­ga­ni­za­tion it­self, which is a full-time gallery but also caters to cre­ative nonprofits by giv­ing them a store­front, so to speak, in down­town Bend. Over the past year, At Lib­erty has be­come a cul­tural com­mu­nity cen­ter in host­ing mu­sic per­for­mances, film screen­ings, artist talks and more. Dur­ing Oc­to­ber’s Tenth Month, Bend’s 30-day cel­e­bra­tion of art, tech, film and busi­ness, At Lib­erty turns over their stone and brick gallery space to Bend Film Fes­ti­val, Bend De­sign

Con­fer­ence, Bend Ven­ture Con­fer­ence and other or­ga­ni­za­tions that par­tic­i­pate in the month’s stream of in­de­pen­dent events. “We re­ally just want to boost the arts and cul­ture pres­ence here in Bend,” says co-founder Kaari Vaughn. Ded­i­cated to col­lab­o­ra­tion, ex­plo­ration and in­no­va­tion when it comes to the arts, At Lib­erty is in­creas­ing Bend’s rel­e­vance as an art town.

An­other vi­brant sec­tor of Bend is the Old Mill Dis­trict, where art, ar­chi­tec­ture, river­side din­ing and live en­ter­tain­ment con­trib­ute to a lively at­mos­phere along the banks of the Deschutes. This his­toric site was the heart of Bend’s log­ging era be­fore ar­chi­tect Bill Smith, in­spired by

San An­to­nio’s River Walk, de­vel­oped the dis­trict into what is now the re­vi­tal­ized home of more than 60 busi­nesses. Gal­leries of note in the Old Mill Dis­trict are Tu­malo Art Co., a high-qual­ity art co­op­er­a­tive fea­tur­ing 14 lo­cally based artists of var­ied medi­ums; DeWilde Art Glass, a stained glass stu­dio housed in the “lit­tle red shed” his­toric build­ing; and the Lubbesmeyer Stu­dio & Gallery. Work­ing in fiber or paint, iden­ti­cal twin sis­ters Lori and Lisa Lubbesmeyer re­spond to each other’s sen­si­bil­i­ties to co-cre­ate lay­ered land­scapes that stitch Lori’s ab­stract vi­sions with Lisa’s re­al­ist frame­work. The trained print­maker and oil painter set­tled their es­tab­lished stu­dio in Bend for the bud­ding art com­mu­nity and en­tic­ing nat­u­ral beauty. Now, their gallery over­looks the Old Mill Dis­trict from its sec­ond story lo­ca­tion with views of nearby moun­tain ranges and wide blue skies. Vis­i­tors can watch the artists’ work while pe­rus­ing their “fiber paint­ings” in the show­room.

Worth the 10-minute drive south of town is the High Desert Mu­seum, a liv­ing his­tory and wildlife mu­seum cel­e­brat­ing the re­gion’s cul­ture through his­tory, science, wildlife and art. The Smith­so­nian af­fil­i­ate has a large col­lec­tion of Plateau Na­tive Amer­i­can ar­ti­facts and a ded­i­cated West­ern art col­lec­tion, which in­cludes

pho­to­graphs by Ed­ward S. Cur­tis, paint­ings by Charles M. Rus­sell, Ed­ward B. Quigley and Rick Bar­tow, whose trav­el­ing ret­ro­spec­tive is slated for Fe­bru­ary 2019.

The High Desert Mu­seum’s mis­sion as an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary in­sti­tu­tion is taken se­ri­ously; ded­i­cated art cu­ra­tor An­dries Fourie in­serts col­lected or bor­rowed art­works into nearly all the Mu­seum’s ex­hibits. “My job is to look at an ex­hibit and iden­tify how art would fit within that vi­sion,” says Fourie, who also serves on the board of Cen­tral Ore­gon’s Art and Cul­ture Al­liance. As a cu­ra­tor and artist, Fourie en­vi­sions an en­cour­ag­ing fu­ture for Bend’s “art town” rep­u­ta­tion. “It’s one of those rare mo­ments where gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, pri­vate in­dus­tries and cul­tural groups all have the same goal—to raise the pro­file of the arts,” he says. One strug­gle the art com­mu­nity faces is that with Bend’s in­creased al­lure also comes the rise of real es­tate prices. This doesn’t bode well for artists and young cre­atives mov­ing to the area; how­ever, lo­cal art-in­flu­encers are ini­ti­at­ing so­lu­tions. Col­lab­o­ra­tive stu­dio and re­tail spa­ces like The Work­house, Bright Place Gallery and Wil­low Lane Artist’s Cre­ative Space pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for artists to work and sell in a sup­port­ive and af­ford­able en­vi­ron­ment. Di­rec­tor of The Work­house is Chris­tian Brown, a con­tem­po­rary lo­cal artist from New York City who ap­pre­ci­ates the ca­ma­raderie of Bend’s “small town” art com­mu­nity as well as the city’s push to sup­port an arts in­fra­struc­ture. “Some of the needs are start­ing to be met for what peo­ple want—and not just from an artist’s stand­point,” he says, ref­er­enc­ing the rise in con­tem­po­rary art out­lets and the com­mu­nity’s de­sire to ex­pe­ri­ence un­ex­pected, var­ied art forms.

The cre­ative cur­rent that rip­ples through Bend is gain­ing strength; now, the col­lec­tive ef­fort must draw in more com­mer­cial gal­leries and art spa­ces to in­crease artist and col­lec­tor op­por­tu­ni­ties. Mock­ing­bird Gallery laid this foun­da­tion and owner Peter­son is com­mit­ted to Bend’s im­mi­nent art mar­ket flour­ish. “Bring your gal­leries here,” he says, “let’s do this to­gether.”

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