Please click the picture below to view a short video about Surel’s Place.
Founded in 2012 by Surel’s younger daughter Rebecca Mitchell Kelada and Surel’s dear friend Karen Bubb, Boise’s city public arts manager, Surel’s Place aims to help you focus on your art as a way to carry on Surel’s legacy in Boise’s vibrant arts community.
There is wide community support for this organization; Boise is a community that values artists and art, and residents will be valued and appreciated for the energy, ideas, and beauty they bring to our city. Surel’s Place is funded through generous private donations and grants from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, among other organizations.
Surel’s Place honors the legacy of artist Surel Mitchell by offering her home and studio to artists of promise, and of renown, for month-long residencies and professionally supported art events. In this inspiring live/work space artists of all disciplines are given time and freedom to reflect, create, and share their work with the Idaho community.
Surel Lee Mitchell was born December 4, 1944 to Ulek and Nettie Tosher in New York City. Her childhood was spent in Pottstown, PA, watching her father paint in his at home studio when he could.
In the 70’s Surel and her then husband Winston moved to Boise from California with their two daughters, Stephanie and Rebecca (the Founder of Surel’s Place). Moving to Boise was an initially traumatic move for an east coast artist, but that move became what was to be a turning point for the artistic vision that permeated her life and community. She was a long-time docent at the Boise Gallery of Art and worked to grow it into a full-fledged museum, eventually serving as a member of the museum board. She was also a member of the Boise City Arts Commission and the Garden City Arts Commission. She helped create the Boise City Visual Chronicle and contributed a piece in 2002. Her extraordinary artistic work culminated in receipt of the Idaho Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2000 and the Boise City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts and History, 2011 Individual Award for Excellence in the Arts. In addition she was an active member in many community art projects including Modern Hotel installations, Project Loca, and Boise Open Studios Collective (BOSCO).
Her work has been exhibited extensively, including in New York, Washington, DC, and
Kuala Lumpur, and it is in private and corporate collections throughout the country. Her art has helped many people see the world; through painting, mixed media, sculpture, and installation art, Surel created important works that bring beauty to the world through color and social and cultural commentary. And, much of her work was a window into her own interior, highly personal and evocative of her history.
Surel was the best kind of teacher. Without being pedantic, she showed people how to live the best life. She naturally attracted people of all backgrounds and could bring them together. It didn’t matter who you were, how old you were, what you did, or where you came from; she took people at face value and embraced everyone. The fact that she lived on her own terms in her own way is what attracted people to her. She was a force for artistic, familial, and civic collaboration, inspiring people to come together to make something beautiful, whether it was beautiful conversation or art installation.
Surel passed away on October 10, 2011, leaving a community at a lost. Soon after, Rebecca and Karen founded Surel’s Place to support artists as a way to continue her legacy. After her death, the Garden City Council officially named her neighborhood after her: The Surel Mitchell Live-Work-Create Art and Spirits District. Her home, now Surel’s Place, is, of course, the district’s anchor.