Step through the door at Surels Place, and you immediately feel at home. You always did when Surel Mitchell was there. The artist and community and arts advocate who built it made sure everyone felt welcome, says her daughter Rebecca Mitchell Kelada.
Even people who had never been in a place where art is made felt comfortable, Kelada says. Its a place for people, and a place to feel like yourself.
Mitchell built her home in Garden City in 1999 as a live/work space, with everything from bedroom to artist studio under one roof. Its cherry wood floors, big open walls, 10-foot ceilings, large open space and natural light make it a fertile place to work, and an inviting environment in which anyone could explore and create.
Now, Kelada, with a group of her moms friends, have founded Surels Place, a nonprofit artist-in-residence that will offer a haven for local and national artists of all mediums, from visual arts to dance.
Mitchell was an advocate for the live/work idea. She served on the Garden City planning commission and helped create the citys Work-Live-Create Overlay District in 2007. The zoning allows people to remodel or develop property for dual use in the area bordered by 37th Street on the west, the Boise River on the north and the city limits to the east and south.
This week, the city rededicated the area as the Surel Mitchell Work-Live-Create District.
Mitchells home was a lively place during her lifetime. She died in October of lung cancer, and now her home will continue to be a place where people can come and find inspiration.
The vision is to keep the place flexible, so it can adapt to any artists project or medium. The only requirement is that the artist have a specific goal in mind, says Karen Bubb, who is the president of the Surels Place board.
We want them to have something they can make significant progress on while theyre there, she says. Being in this space to create was something that was very important to Surel.
This live/work artists space was Mitchells dream home. She designed it around her art not just how she would work, but even taking into account specific pieces she wanted to hang. There is something interesting at every turn.
She wanted to simplify and to move and never move again, which is what happened, she says. She built it all accessible and wanted a place where her art and her life were seamless. And thats what she got.
Mitchell initially installed a curtain she could draw across to divide the space if she wanted, but she never once used it, Kelada says.
Mitchell moved to Boise in 1977 and became a force in the local arts scene through her work and service.
Since the 1980s, she struggled with multiple sclerosis and systemic lupus, physical challenges that she never let define her. Instead, she changed mediums as her physical abilities changed.
The thing that worried Mom the most was that any physical limitations might start limiting her creativity and her output, Kelada says. She said, If I lose that, I lose myself. And so, if this house keeps fostering and inspiring creativity, and people keep coming here to experience and produce art, then she still exists, shes still here.
Kelada and her husband, Samir, and their 1-year-old daughter, Nettie, who live in North Carolina, plan to spend Augusts in the home each year.
Otherwise, it is open for business. Surels Place will be ready for its first artist tenant in the fall.
There are different ways people can use Surels Place.
Artists residency: Artists can request a residence for one week or up to three months. (Be advised that smoking of any kind is not allowed.) Rent and utilities are free, and it comes with a small travel stipend.
There is no application deadline. Applications will be reviewed quarterly by a panel of board members and community artists.
Artists in residence will be required to offer public access to their work by giving a performance or viewing. They also will be asked to leave something behind that can be auctioned off at an annual fundraiser.
When its not occupied by a resident, it will be open as housing for artists coming in to work with a local arts organization for a short time. Those applications must be made through the hosting organization.