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Rick Steber & Company-Makers gives Crook County talent a place to show their work

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Rick Steber stands in front of the planks taken from the building that date back to when it was a blacksmith business. The planks still have the branding marks on them, and one of the original branding irons was also found during the renovation.  ABOVE LEFT: Ben Northcutt stands by his first saddle, which is on display in the showroom at Rick Steber & Company-Makers.

Rick Steber is a dreamer and also an ambitious writer and award-winning novelist with more than 2 million books in print.

On June 26, Steber made one of those dreams come true when he opened his new business, Rick Steber & Company-Makers. The store showcases local artists and their work, and includes a wide variety of mediums and artists.

Steber will also have on display, his entire collection of books that he has authored.

He bought the building on Northeast Fifth Street, next to NAPA Auto Parts, from Gordon Shortreed and began the renovation in April.

"I owe a lot to a lot of people," Steber elaborated of the helpers in the renovation.

He said that as they transformed the vintage building, they found relics of days past. Steber pointed to the wood planks from the era when the original building was a blacksmith shop. He used them to adorn the walls in the showroom, with etchings from branding irons that testify to another time. He also found one of the original branding irons.

The 6,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1952, and has been home to a Pontiac dealership, Barney Machine Shop, Central Auto Diesel Electric, and at least two other auto shops. Shortreed also had an auto shop at the location until 2006.

Steber wanted to create a showroom for local artists that would reflect the flavor and personality of the area. He also has three artists who currently utilize the back part of the building to work on their wares and creations.

"I didn't want to start a Rick Steber book store," said Steber of his inspiration for the business. "What I wanted to do is feature my books, but at the same time promote artists in Central and Eastern Oregon who are doing something unique and different."

He is especially interested in featuring artists who are repurposing materials to make something new and creative. Steber said he looks for top-notch work, and he has had people from out of town come and look at the store.

Artwork in the store includes leather work, pine needle baskets, dream catchers, woodwork, jewelry, and Native American art—just to name a few. There is also a wide variety of mediums in fine art such as acrylics, pencil and multi-media.

"This is not a Walmart kind of store; this isn't a made-in-China store," emphasized Steber. "It's a made right here in Eastern and Central Oregon store."

He indicated that there is also space available to rent in the back of the store.

What Makers have to say about Rick Steber & Company-Makers

One featured Maker, Deborah Brock, has been drawing since she was 2 years old. Her passion is drawing and horses. She believes showing her work helps her feel a closeness with local people.

"I think it's really cool that Rick has opened up his shop to local people," Brock said.

She indicated that her inspiration comes from where she is at any point in time, and she takes most of her own photos locally.

"It represents Crook County people," she added. "I really want to display my work, so I can show people what I do."

Susan Caron, another Maker who features her work at the store, creates dreamcatchers. She makes them from natural materials, including gem stones, feathers and products of the earth.

"Rick is quite a supporter of the arts and a grand author himself," reflected Caron. "It's really nice to have this in Prineville, and I like the fact that he is open to local artisans and not just the fine arts."

Caron was invited to bring some of her work in, and one of her dreamcatchers was the first item to sell at the store.

Ben Northcutt has been an artist for a short period of time, and is already an accomplished artisan in his own right.

"I'm a leather maker, and I can make just about anything out of leather," said Northcutt.

He pointed to a belt, a purse in progress and a beautiful saddle recently completed. He spent one year under the mentorship of a saddle maker at Dixon Saddlery in Prineville.

"I learned a lot from him," he pointed out.

Northcutt started working with leather approximately three years ago. His first saddle sits proudly on display in Steber's showroom.

"I want to work on and build saddles," he said of his first choice of leather work.

He is considering renting a space in the back of Steber's shop as well.

Steber indicated that there will be a grand opening on Sept. 6. During the grand opening, there will be a wide variety of artists working and available for demonstrations of their craft. There will be lots of raffles and giveaways. Many local businesses have contributed to the prizes for the event.

For artists interested in having their work considered, they should contact Steber through the Rick Steber & Company-Makers Facebook page.

"I'm proud to give them a place where they can show their things," Steber said of the new showroom. "It's heartening to give them a place to display their work."

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Rick Steber & Company —Makers

Phone: 541-447-3115

Address: 131 NE Fifth St., Prineville

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday

Grand Opening: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 6, 2019.


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