The Bookcliffs Council on Arts and Humanities was founded and received Colorado state certification as a Nonprofit Profit corporation as of July 26, 1989. The purpose was to aide and encourage, advise and correlate all activities dedicated to the promotion of arts and humanities in the Western Garfield County area, and to integrate such activities into the total life of these communities.
From 1989 to 2001, the Council provided art, music, and cross-cultural experiences throughout the area. Having no permanent location, these activities were conducted in schools, public spaces, churches, outdoors, and in private residences..
In February 2002, utilizing $242,500 in grant funding from the Aspen Foundation, the Crossland Foundation, and an anonymous donor, BCAH purchased a five-acre property from the Morrow family, giving the Council a permanent home at 955 County Road 293 in Rifle, Colorado.p
BCAH was unable to begin development of the land because of the boom of residential development in the Rifle area. The area surrounding the BCAH property had been annexed by the city of Rifle, and therefore, BCAH was unable to secure the Garfield County permits required to begin construction. Garfield County maintained that the BCAH property should be annexed as well, a process that was finally completed as of May 20, 2009.
During the interim period BCAH provided the majority of programs through the public schools and public spaces. Very few actual events have been staged on sit because of the lack of facilities. BCAH has been limited to outdoor family events with music, and a few classes in metal sculpture taught by resident artist and caretaker, William Morrow.
From 2002 to present BCAH has provided a wide range of cultural experiences. Some examples are:
Super Saturday Art Camp: In conjunction with the Rifle Recreation Department, BCAH provided the opportunity for school-aged children to experience painting, mosaics, wire sculpture, and crafts taught by local artists.
The Tree of Life: A piece of “Art Around Town” that was displayed on the south side of Fourth Street in Rifle. It was designed by resident artist William Morrow, and the young artists of the summer art camp did the mosaic work.
Pee Wee Craft: An arts and crafts program for pre-school aged children.
Big Mama Garage Sales: Held with the generous support of the Aspen Thrift Shop. Clothing and household items were offered to the community. Remaining items were delivered to the Navajo Reservation out of Tuba City, AZ for distribution. BCAH provided all of the volunteers, as well as, the expenses of transport to Arizona. The following year, with continued support from the Aspen Thrift Shop, BCAH set up and stocked the Dine Thrift Store.
Navajo Reservation Outreach Programs: In support of the only public library on the Navajo Reservation, BCAH collected books and materials from local libraries, delivered them to the Tuba City Library and hosted a “Friends of the Library” event. Each child was able to select two books and the book sale generated funds for the library. Left over books were delivered to outlying chapter houses for distribution.
Music and Cross-Cultural Programs: BCAH organized events in the Rifle public schools featuring Native American story telling, drumming and song. This program served over 850 elementary and middle school students. Aspen Community Foundation, Wells Fargo, and various individuals have supported the program.
Rifle Rendezvous: BCAH sponsored Peshlakai Cultural Foundation programs of dance, song, story and music. BCAH also sponsored and hosted Artist of the Year, Fred Heberlein, a renowned Colorado muralist, as well as, local artists and their work.
The Art Park property was annexed into the city of Rifle on May 20, 2009, marking a significant milestone in the eventual completion of the project.