Surel Mitchell was an integral part of Boise's art scene for more than three decades. The 67-year-old mixed-media artist passed away at home Monday, surrounded by family, after a six-month battle with lung cancer.
The New York native was raised in Pennsylvania, and then moved to the City of Trees when her husband accepted a position with Hewlet-Packard in 1977. Mitchell found creative solace in Idaho: "I feel fortunate to live and create as I wish without the pressures of 'the art world'; the high cost of city living and I have an appreciation of the isolation to make art uninfluenced by trends, hype or endemic imagery," she writes on her artist's website.
Mitchell contributed moving works of art to various Treasure Valley locations, including some BW cover submissions. Her influence is found not only in her work, but in the impressions left on a multitude of Boise artists.
"I certainly knew and respected her," artist Molly Hill said. "You couldn't be a Boise artist and not know Surel Mitchell."
Mitchell was seen as an "advocate for art and artists in public spaces," Hill said. Her legacy can be witnessed by a look at her Facebook page, which has become a space for fellow artists to express their appreciation and grief, such as artist Noble Hardesty did in his post: "Here's to an incredible woman. You taught me a great deal. Goodnight sweetheart."
Mitchell's living/creating space will become the nonprofit Surel's Place, and offer studio space to local and national artists.
"I think that's a wonderful legacy," Hill said. "It was and is a wonderful working space. I'm certain she would approve."