Walking into the storefront of Central Oregon's newest arts co-working space, Rick Steber & Company-Makers, one is struck by its genuine, cowboy feel. Apt, given that it's located in Prineville, a community whose historical roots are in ranching and mining. With an aesthetic dubbed, 'industrial cowboy chic,' work on display from 30-plus rural Oregon artists ranges from traditional leather and bead work, to artistic quilts and fine art photography, to Steber's own collection of Western novels. The man is a prolific, award-winning author with more than 40 titles under his belt. The space had its grand opening Sept. 7.
- Cari Brown
- Mike Domeyer of Shasta Leatherworks at work in his studio.
Steber is rightfully proud of what he and his makers have created, stating that one of the most important aspects of the co-working environment is that it has opened up opportunities to heritage artists and created interesting and unique collaborations. Talking to studio member Mike Domeyer of Shasta Leatherworks led to a tour of the studios. Currently, four are occupied with two or three more available. Domeyer, a longtime leatherworker, is currently seeking an apprentice. When asked why, he stated that "...it's a lost art, a lot of the things we do here." Passing it on is important.
It could be easy to dismiss a place resplendent in pencil drawings of cowboys and metal horse sculptures as kitsch and irrelevant, given the zeitgeist of abstraction and politicism in today's contemporary art world, but that would be a huge mistake. The work is authentic to the lives of the people making it and holds dear themes grounded in reverence for heritage and legacy. Rick Steber & Co is providing a very important service, showcasing the art of those primarily residing in regions of Oregon that are categorically dismissed and underserved by most of the art (and other) establishments of this state. That is to say, rural Oregonians.
Rick Steber & Company-Makers
131 NE 5th St. Prineville
Gallery open Wed-Sun, 10am- 6pm
- Cari Brown
- Rick Steber is an author who runs his own press, and now, the co-working space.