In 1991 Gary Peterson’s handcrafted wood mask Mounted Deer was carved, Peterson moved to Victoria where he studied under Victor Neuman, Oscar Matilpi Sr., and eventually with his cousin, Anthony Dawson. Returning to Alert Bay, he took a carving course with his first idol, Wayne Alfred, and portrait mask making from the carver who would become his mentor, Beau Dick. Then back to Victoria and 3 years working in the Thunderbird Park carving studio at the Royal Museum, which was a great joy to him as the studio was founded by his great uncles, Mungo Martin and Henry Hunt. There he worked alongside his cousin, Shawn Karpes, and new friends Luke and John Marston. Peterson is so grateful to all the artists who took the time to share their talents, but most of all to Wayne and Beau who continue to encourage and inspire him.
Gary Peterson’s introduction to the creation of Northwest Coast Native art was in 1980, he first walked past the carving studio in Alert Bay. When not in school, he watched the artists at work – artists such as Doug Cranmer, Wayne Alfred, Beau Dick, Harold and Bruce Alfred, Richard Sumner, and Fah Ambers. Of all the artists, Wayne Alfred captivated Gary the most with his sleek clean designs and witty personality.