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Bellevue—A Gateway to Art?
Sunday, May 22, 2016


Ketchum’s Art Commission has endowed the town’s 4th Street corridor with a 6-foot steel eagle, Robert Kantor’s stacked art and works like “Dancing Maidens,” which depicts the leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree.

Hailey’s Art Commission endowed that town with Mark Stasz’s “Timeless Portal” in Roberta McKercher Park.

Now, two of the valley’s advocates for the arts want to establish a volunteer-led Bellevue Arts Commission that will establish Bellevue as the gateway to the rich treasure trove of arts in the Wood River Valley.

Suzanne Hazlett, co-founder of the Wood River Valley Studio Tour, and Bellevue fine arts photographer Anne Jeffery will make a presentation pitching such a commission to the Bellevue Common Council on Monday, May 23.

They are seeking to be appointed as the city’s first art commissioners.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall, 115 E. Pine St.

The two are not asking the City of Bellevue for any funds.  They’re just seeking approval to establish an arts commission. The commission itself will seek grants for projects and cultural events as soon as it gets the go-ahead, said Hazlett.

“There is a groundswell forming in Bellevue’s population as artists of all disciplines are uniting with a common goal of bringing artistic vitality to this community, which serves as the gateway to the Sawtooth Mountains,” said Hazlett. “The newly formed Bellevue Artist Alliance and the upcoming Bellevue Open Studio Tour scheduled for October are two examples of the artistic energy intent on manifesting positive change.”

Hazlett said she and Jeffery have identified local, state and federal grants that could be transformative for the Wood River Valley’s southernmost city. Grant-giving organizations include the Idaho Commission on the Arts, Idaho Department of Transportation, Art Place Grants, Our Town Grants, Idaho Humanities Council Grants, National Trust of Historic Preservation grants and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The City of Providence, R.I., a city in decline, recently applied for and received two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts to expand art-based learning opportunities for students and promote collaboration between arts and business communities, Hazlett noted. A $100,000 Our Town grant will enable the community to build community through world-class performing arts and plan creative place making projects that will beautify the community.

A Bellevue Arts Commission could pursue grants from local, state and federal entities to promote  artistic cultural experiences and increase cultural tourism that could increase community vitality while providing positive economic impact within the city of Bellevue, she added.

Grants could be used for a variety of things, Jeffery said.

“For instance, we could use a grant to create a new infrastructure to hang banners over Main Street to promote art and events, not only for Bellevue but for the entire valley."

Grants could be used to commission public art similar to that found in Hailey and Ketchum. It could be used to support local artists, such as those participating in the inaugural Bellevue Artists Alliance Open Studio tour, which will be held Oct. 14-15.

It could also be used to support cultural events and concerts that would bring tourists to Bellevue.

Arts and culture not only enrich our quality of life but can be useful agents for invigorating and restoring character to town cores, rekindling pride in a community and attracting visitors, Hazlett said.

In addition to improving the visibility of arts in the community, a commission could provide guidance to the City of Bellevue about how to involve and inspire volunteers and promote the recognition and development of Bellevue artists and cultural programs, Hazlett and Jeffery added.

The commission would function as an independent, nonprofit organization working with the community development director and city staff and reporting directly to the mayor and council. The City would have the opportunity to review and approve all grant and funding applications before they are submitted to grant-making entities.

Time is of the essence, Hazlett said, as some of the grant opportunities are time sensitive.


Anne Jeffery is a photographer who shoots original photographs and enhances them with digital computer  interpretation. She has worked in the public relations field and in wildland fire management with the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service—a career that took her from Idaho to New Mexico to Alaska to Washington, D.C.

 She is a founding member of the new Bellevue Artist Alliance and a participant in the Wood River Valley Studio Tour. Her work has been exhibited in galleries ranging from Laguna Beach, Calif., to Friedman Memorial Airport and St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center in the Sun Valley area. She was a finalist in the international Julie M. Cameron Award for Women Photographers—Alternative Process and her work will be exhibited at the 4th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography in Berlin in October 2016. Her work has also appeared in such publications as the Eddie Bauer catalog, and Cowboys & Indians magazines.

Suzanne Hazlett is a visual artist who is represented by Gail Severn Gallery. She is the co-founder and president of Wood River Valley Studio Tour, Inc, a nonprofit arts organization that celebrates the work of local artists with an annual tour of local artist studios.

Her primary career is in wealth management and the Ketchum-based financial services firm, Boulder Financial Alliance.

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