Many points of light, one bright future

ArtPlace Projects

The ArtPlace America “Art Engage at the Library” project was as vast as the region that Libraries of Eastern Oregon covers. Half of the state of Oregon lies within the LEO area and is the nation’s largest geographic library consortium which includes 15 counties and 50 plus locations. Some serving only a few hundred residents others serving 20,000. You will find the stories of agricultural producers, artists, writers, filmmakers, workshop presenters, library directors and resources for the arts within rural Oregon. We’ve included a look at the “Harvesting Our Stories” project which paired artists and producers in Baker, Hood River and Wasco Counties to tell the tale of the changing face of agriculture and the power creativity plays in keeping communities and cultures vital for the future. The videos were created by filmmakers Kathleen Kiefer (Baker Co.) and David Hanson (Hood River & Wasco Co.).

 The goals of the project were to have an impact on the conversation about rural economic development and the role the arts and the library can play in that. Our regions are in a process of transitioning from former 20th century dependence on natural resources (logging, mining) and traditional agriculture, to an emerging economy of tourism that focuses on art, culture and value added agriculture (niche foods, farm and ranch stays). The region’s strongest assets are the stunning scenic beauty, charming small towns, Old West ambiance and rich Native American history.

 This part of the LEO website acts as a guide to the creative resources and outlets available to residences and tourists alike. We have organized it by county to include as many art centers, galleries, preforming arts organizations and where to get art supplies as possible.

 I hope that you find inspiration from the stories we tell you from around the LEO region and that what we’ve done over the past 15 months at our libraries, farms and studios tells you what an incredibly wonderful place Eastern Oregon is to live, work and create. I personally have been lucky enough to work with most the talented people featured here and know that it has not only broadened my understanding, but also influenced my creativity.


Brian Vegter
Executive Director
Libraries of Eastern Oregon

Harvesting Our Stories

A collection of videos from the Artists of Eastern Oregon. Follow them as they share their stories.

Copper Belt Winery and tom novak

Baker City artist tom novak visits the Copper Belt Winery for the day to gather reference photos for his paintings. Then follow tom back to his studio where he'll share his methods and thoughts on his work.

Young Roots Farm and Artist SK Cothren

What happens when artist meets farmer and they share what is important in their respective realms? Artist SK Cothren meets Amy Young owner of Young Roots Farm. Produced by Kathleen Kiefer this project funded by Libraries of Eastern Oregon and ARTPlace America.

The Great Salt Lick

Once a year the Great Salt Lick event draws people from across the state and parts unknown to Baker City, Oregon to participate in a most unusual auction of salt blocks. Arguably art, the licked salt blocks are submitted by ranchers who vie for cash prizes for the most aesthetic blocks in several categories. The event has raised $90,000 in the last ten years. The money goes to Oregon Health Sciences Center for research into Parkinson's disease. Produced by Kathleen Kiefer and funded by Libraries of Eastern Oregon ans ARTPlace America.

Eagle Creek Orchard through the eyes of Artist Sandra Ford

One of the most beautiful organic certified orchards in the state of Oregon. Eagle Creek Orchard is nestled along Eagle River within the folded hillsides of Richland, Oregon. Artist Sandra Ford, who has worked at the orchard for years shares her impressions and her experience painting the fruits of the season. Produced by Kathleen Kiefer and funded by Libraries of Eastern Oregon and ARTPlace America.

Harvesting Our Stories

A collaboration of farmers and artists in the Columbia River Gorge from ModocPLUS1 month ago

Carmiel Banasky

Creative Writing Workshop

The workshop involved a slideshow presentation with examples of ekphrastic (art-motivated) writing and with images of paintings. We discussed the examples of poems and prose, participants talked about what moved them and how the work was connected to the art. Throughout the event, I gave them writing prompts based on the art we were talking about and participants shared what they wrote. The goal was to get participants to see that writing and inspiration can come from anywhere.

At most of these events I also gave a little reading and Q&A about my book afterwards, and talked about how art was part of my writing process.

I loved that there were all ages present - from 17 to 70. They seemed to be mostly people interested in writing who want to find a way to enter more creativity into their lives. I love going to communities like Baker City that are not overly saturated with events like this but where people are truly engaged in their town and in the arts. People didn’t necessarily know one another but there was a clear sense of community in each place. These events were a beautiful opportunity connect with the readers and students I want to reach through writing.

- Carmiel Banasky

Teresa Drilling

History and Principles of Stop-Motion Animation

This was a chance for people to see some of the animated characters they had seen in movies or on TV up close “in person.” They learned about the science behind persistence of vision, and how physics are expressed in the principles of animation we animators follow. We went over a brief history of stop motion animation and how it was discovered. The different kinds of stop motion were explained and shown. We also talked about what a stop motion studio was like and how puppets were made.
This lead up to the whole group having a go at animating themselves as a group, with the resulting movies being left with the schools or librarians for sharing with the participants. In the longer workshops, people made their own table top movies using the affordable and accessible technology of iPads and iStopmotion animation software. Parents and kids made up stories together, pushing toy zebras around improvised waterholes, as a plastic parrot flew through a scene. One boy animated his grandma zooming around the room in a chair.  My youngest participant must have been about 3 years old, totally engrossed in copying the poses and actions of the older kids around her.  

I found it to be an amazing experience.  I grew up in a rural part of the country and in a way this trip felt a lot to me like coming home, with a way to give back to something close to my roots.  I was welcomed wherever I went, and I think participants came away with a fun, unique, and educational experience.  

Besides being personally and professionally gratifying, this experience was also rewarding to me creatively as an animation artist.    

I had high hopes for this tour, and even so, the experience greatly exceeded my expectations.  The scheduling and personal connections were organized very well.  The people involved were great, and the majesty and beauty of Eastern OR was breathtaking.  I am so thankful to have been a part of this.

-Teresa Drilling

SK Cothren

Abstract Artist SK Cothren 

Abstract Workshops & The Artists is Present

Abstract Collage Workshop

After looking at collaged images created by artists over the centuries, students created their own collage design with a personal theme.

The Artist is Present

Every Tuesday for the month of August, 2016. Patrons were encouraged to write “I Am” statements and leave them at the library in a special box throughout the week. During the two-hour painting session, the statements were collaged into three mixed-media paintings entitled, “I Am Baker City.”

Paint Like A Scientist: Abstract Painting Workshop

After viewing a slideshow about how abstract painting is a process much like a scienti c experiment, 35 participants ranging in age from 13-70 created two or three abstract paintings to take home.

Paint Like A Free Bird: Painting birds the messy art way

After a brief slideshow of bird depictions by artists over the centuries to inspire ideas, students painted their own large abstract bird.

Thanks to the ArtPlace America grant, the library offered these events to the public for free and an interesting thing happened. A student recently told me, “Your “free bird” class was the trigger.” After the class a year ago, she started attending Thursday  Art Night films at the Eltrym Theater, going to First Friday Art Walk every month and regularly taking classes at the Crossroads Carnegie Arts Center. She also brings her co-workers and friends along.

I loved this opportunity to offer abstract art to a wide range of people who were enthusiastic and curious about their own abilities, and the idea of abstraction. Everyone dove in and tried it, and had positive things to say about their own work. My favorite part is the moment when students put down their brushes and look at what they created. That sense of wonder, pride, and often, surprise is awesome to see.

-SK Cothren

Dryland Film Screening Tour

with Filmmakers Sue Arbuthnot and Richard Wilhelm.


Our project, as directly related to LEO/ArtPlace America, was a screening tour of our film, Dryland, during which we traveled to five eastern Oregon cities.

The film project itself was 10 years in production. Briefly, we met our two main characters, Josh and Matt, in 2003, at a drivers’ meeting. They were among a group going over the rules for the upcoming Annual Lind Washington Combine Demolition Derby. We knew, when we met them, that this film would not be a short film about an extreme sport. It evolved into a story about coming of age, rural life, importance of place, sense of belonging, and the irresistible draw of technology in agriculture and, in turn, technology’s role in reducing the number of farmers—and populations—in rural communities. It is also about youthful dreams come true.

We have screened DRYLAND in about 15 film festivals and received a number of Best Feature Documentary awards. Awards are good professionally, but community screenings offer us the opportunity to hear local stories, learn more about the place where we live, and remain curious.

(comments about the community reaction to this film from: Amy Hutchinson, Library Director Lake County Library District)

Although Dryland was filmed in Washington, many of the themes of the film resonated strongly with our small, rural, natural resource-based town. We, too, struggle with how to sustain a community and economy when many feel that the resource rug has been yanked from under us. Our young people also struggle to find ways to continue an agricultural or resource-based family business.

We, too, feel that our story has not been told well in the broader culture. Attendees remarked to the filmmakers and myself at the end of the event how happy they were to see a depiction of rural America that faced the challenges head on while also bringing out many of the positive aspects of rural communities and the people who inhabit them. They thanked the filmmakers for telling their story so well and sharing it with urban residents through screenings.