Kim Randleas has been making the rounds promoting her idea of establishing an art center in the John Day area.

She presented her concept to the Grant County Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 21 and has spoken to members of the Grant County Court and the John Day City Council about her proposal.

A native of Eastern Oregon with ancestors who were homesteaders, Randleas is an established and recognized Western artist who paints Native Americans along with pioneer men, women and children in their rustic settings.

Her concept for a local art center has expanded over time to include a robust curriculum that ranges from painting, weaving, glass works, leather craft, photography and pottery to creative writing, music and theater — even business classes for artists.

Classes could be provided for children as after-school education and senior projects or fun activities with seasonal themes, such as Halloween or Christmas costumes and decorations.

As the program grows, she hopes to provide studio space for working artists and gallery space for artists to show their works. The program could also coordinate with First Friday downtown events. She envisions the program over time growing into a regional art center and a vital part of the local economy.

Randleas says she has solid numbers for a self-sustaining program, with revenue coming from tuition while fundraising and grants would provide seed money.

One hundred people responded to an online survey March 1 that Randleas used to gauge interest in the art center. Forty percent said they would very likely take an art, music or creative writing class in John Day, and 36 percent said they would likely take such a class.

Fifty-five percent said they or their child would be interested in painting classes, 51 percent in pottery, 46 percent in drawing, 38 percent in music, 28 percent in leather craft, 28 percent in creative writing, 26 percent in knitting or crocheting and 21 percent in printmaking.

About 15 percent said they would pay $10-20 for a two-hour class, about 37 percent said $20-$30, about 16 percent said $30-$40 and about 37 percent said they were not familiar with the cost of art classes.

The art center would need to start small and phase up, she said. She has found a dozen people to serve on an art center committee and has lined up teachers in a variety of fields. She also has the support of community leaders and business people. A name and location are still being decided.

Anyone interested in teaching or volunteering can contact Kim Randleas at krandleas0250@gmail.com.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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