MAKERS — A Place for Artists & Craftspeople


(Rick Steber — MAKERS in Prineville | Photo courtesy of Rick Steber)

Inspiration often arrives unexpectedly for artists, craftspeople and writers. It could be the echoing sentiments of words in a song or poem, the way the sunlight bounces off raindrops clinging to pine needles or eavesdropping on two people at the local coffee shop. 

For well-known Oregon author Rick Steber, his idea to create a place for more than 110 artists and craftspeople to be under one roof derived from looking at a photograph of his late father, Chuck Steber. 

“I was looking at a picture of my dad and the trout he carved when he was 14 years old. He loved to carve, but he never had time. He went to college and then served in the Army during the war years, met my mom in Alaska, got married, had seven kids and had a 35-year career as a school administrator,” Steber said. “After he retired, he got to carve absolutely amazing birds and did so while having Parkinson’s disease.”

Believing in the intrinsic beauty of the arts, Steber has created a place where other creative people can display their artwork. 

In September of 2019, he opened Rick Steber — MAKERS, a collaborative community that includes the literary headquarters of his books and the work of artisans and artists living in Central and Eastern Oregon. The showroom is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Saturday at 131 NE Fifth St. in Prineville.

Steber is the author of more than 50 books with sales exceeding two million copies. He has received national acclaim for his writing including receiving the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Western Novel, Western Heritage Award, Benjamin Franklin Award, Mid-America Publishers Award, Oregon Library Association Award and Oregon Literary Arts Award. Four of his books have been optioned to movie production companies. He is also a guest speaker. 

Since Lona Reed took over as showroom manager, every display has been redesigned for maximum effect.

“I think the shop is very inspiring, and I enjoy seeing the variety of items on display. This is a place where people are encouraged to pursue their artistic passion whatever that medium might be,” Reed said. 

Reed shared it’s also a place that preserves lost arts including pine needle baskets, beaded jewelry and leather work. 

When he opened in 2019, Steber said the business was going great with people spending a few hours in the showroom. When the pandemic hit Oregon in March, business ground to a halt. 

He encourages people in Eastern and Central Oregon to visit Prineville and discover what the city has to offer. 

“People who visit the showroom are amazed at the talent,” Steber said. “There is a 95-year-old man who makes walking sticks, a woman who has 23 multiple personalities whose treatment is to explore different artwork, a woman blacksmith from Klamath Falls, a hatmaker from Lakeview, a woman scrimshaw artists from Burns and a pine needle basket maker from Prineville.” 

JD Grinnell specializes in painting iconic Oregon scenes including Trillium Lake, summer Aspens and Herbie the Volkswagen next to a few cows in a field. 

Grinnell is amazed at the incredible and virtually hidden talents that are living in Central and Eastern Oregon. 

“The dominant reaction of people visiting for the first time is, “Wow, I had no idea!” Prineville doesn’t have the cultural cachet of larger Central Oregon cities, so it comes as a surprise to find the level of sophistication and craftsmanship that is shown at Rick Steber — MAKERS,” Grinnell said. “In the future, perhaps it will become not quite so far off the beaten track.”

Grinnell said the broad range of artists and artisans makes the showroom hard to describe. 

“The one unifying theme is the quality of the work ranges from really good to really, really good,” Grinnell said. “As one of the makers, I’m pleased to be included among them. When one of my pieces sell, I like to imagine it finding a good home, rather than simply being a piece of commerce.” 

Grinnell said the craftsmanship of a painting or piece of woodworking cannot be captured by online photos. Instead, he said, it needs to be experienced firsthand. 

“A painting attracts your attention from 30 feet, and changes character at ten feet, and changes again at three feet. At 30 feet it looks real. At ten feet it is impressionistic. At three feet it is a mishmash of brush strokes. This is nearly impossible to capture online,” he said. “And so it is with woodworking, where to pick it up and feel the grain and see how it catches the light is a big part of the total experience. In the showroom, you can see it in your hands.”

Steber said he has cultivated a collection of art that people will find nowhere else. 

“Art is who we are. I believe we will be known by the stories and the art we leave behind,” Steber said. “I want this place to be where people are encouraged to do what they love to do and for people to discover what inspires them.”

131 NE Fifth St., Prineville • 541-447-3115


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