Program directors for the Prairie Sky Center for the Arts held an open house Friday and Saturday in John Day, celebrating the start of art, drama and music classes and more, which will be offered to children and adults.

The kickoff event was held at the Madden Brothers building at 116 Bridge St. in John Day, which also is the location of the nonprofit Prairie Sky Center for the Arts. The center will take up a few rooms on the north side of the building.

During the event, musicians held jam sessions outdoors, and indoors was an art show and sale with a meet and greet with artists and authors who held a book fair.

Musicians performed on stage, AK Moss held an audience captive with her famous cowboy poetry and a martial arts group shared their skills. Clair Kehrberg demonstrated leather tooling, and Sandra Gladish sat at a pottery wheel, showcasing her craft. Children were also in on the fun, creating sun catcher and leatherwork crafts.

Katy Nelson won a random drawing for an original oil painting by Kim Randleas, who is the executive director for Prairie Sky. There were 327 raffle tickets sold.

A total of $1,890 was contributed through donations and new Prairie Sky memberships, and the funding will be used for classroom supplies.

There were about 250 guests viewing 70 pieces of art with 20 volunteers assisting with the event.

“It’s incredible to see so many people working together for the greater good,” Randleas said. “Our community is so rich with creative assets, and we are creating solutions for local problems.”

She said rural counties that are home to performing arts organizations experience population growth three times higher than rural counties lacking in that area.

“A large body of research shows that arts and culture are actually drivers of rural economic development,” she said.

The center’s first workshop will be an all-levels class by California artist Valerie Coe who will teach “Drawing and Painting Horses in Watercolor” Sept. 27-29. Coe is also president of her local farm bureau organization.

“We are working hard to create classes to further develop the creative sector in Grant County as well as create retreat style workshops to bring visitors to the area,” Randleas said. “One of the best ways to support the art center is by signing up for classes — it’s a win for everyone.”

Program directors include: Heidi Brooks (literary arts), Laurel Coombs (administrative), Clair Kehrberg (traditional arts), Mariah Harper (youth programs) and Meaghan Jones (marketing director).

The Prairie Sky Center for the Arts website states their “mission is to advance arts education and entertainment, enhancing the quality of life, and promoting cultural development in the community. Through its programs, the Arts Center will be a dynamic organization that empowers and transforms individuals through creative education and experience.”

For more information, visit

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.


Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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