ST. CHARLES – It seems just like yesterday that Guy J. Bellaver took his first art classes.
When he stumbled upon the art of sculpting, his passion for it took him to heights that even he couldn't even have imagined.
Forty years later, Bellaver, a St. Charles resident, was a member of the eighth class to be inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame on April 14.
His works include several mediums – including stone, wood and metal. There are well over 100 projects in his portfolio.
Due to that portfolio and the dedication to his craft, Bellaver was nominated by a peer in his field, Stu Ainsworth, and became one of the six recent inductees – along with Philip Burnham, Joseph Hernandez, Dr. Margaret Hillis, Sandro Miller and Roy J. Solfisburg III – into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at Villa Olivia in Bartlett.
The mission of the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame organization is to recognize artists who have spent at least 20 years in their profession and have received national or international recognition. Artists selected have an association with the Fox Valley by birth, education, residence or service.
Bellaver, who has lived in St. Charles for the last 31 years, caught up with Kane County Chronicle reporter Chris Casey to talk about the recognition and a look back at those 40 years.
Chris Casey: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame?
Guy J. Bellaver: Awards are always very nice and appreciated, but it's always nice to be accepted by your peer group. I think that's the most important and exciting thing for me. There were artists in my profession who thought that I was worthy of being inducted, and I'd have to say that is the part that means the most to me. That's always very nice.
Casey: Forty years is a long time. Does it feel like it's been that long?
Bellaver: It really doesn't. It seems like it's gone by extremely fast, and that's the down side. It goes by so quick that often you don't take a step back and realize it. But this induction has definitely allowed me to do just that.
Casey: Take me back 40 years ago – how did you get started with sculpting?
Bellaver: I worked for Xerox Corp. in the early 1970s, and one day I saw a rainbow and thought I could paint it. I started taking some painting courses, but sitting in one spot for hours just didn't mold with the kind of personality I have. I'm a physical person, and I loved the art of sculpting. It's a physical task. So, once I took classes for that, I left Xerox to pursue a career in sculpting, and – 40 years later – here we are.
Casey: I know it's hard with well over 100 pieces to choose from, but do any stand out as ones you'll always remember?
Bellaver: I'd have to say the Kane County Veterans Memorial in Geneva is a big one. Halfway through that piece, I met so many people, and it's crazy because you realize just how many conflicts there were during those wars. I had relatives in the world wars; I knew people in [the Korean War]; and I myself was in the United States Army and was in Vietnam and Desert Storm. That one was a real eye-opener because so many men sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. That one had personal ties to it, as well.
Casey: What has the Tri-Cities area meant to your life and career?
Bellaver: The people in this area have been extremely accepting and supportive. It's been great because they have been so appreciative of sculpture. You have places like [The Hemmens Cultural Center] in Elgin and Paramount Theatre in Aurora, so all other arts like that are supported in the area. The Fox Valley community up and down has a passion for the arts, and it's been very heart-warming.