Tuesday, June 19, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 15

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on September 24th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 29

Ian M. Hassett Foundation supports emerging local artists

Righetti High School graduate's legacy celebrates his creative life


The Ian M. Hassett Foundation provides local emerging artists with grants and scholarships in the name of the deceased teenage artist.

Ian Hassett was just a young man when he was given his cancer diagnosis. Though he always remained hopeful, he was also realistic, his mother Stefanie Hassett explained. He sought to use his time well, engaging in the creative outlets he grew up enjoying and branching into new ones.

“He handled his diagnosis so gracefully; it was so amazing to his Dad and I,” Stefanie said. “There were no temper tantrums, no gnashing of teeth. He took it in stride.”

A graduate of Ernest Righetti High School, Ian was excited about establishing a memorial scholarship for the school’s art students when his parents approached him with the idea several months before his passing.

“We came up with the scholarship idea because his friends [and the school] had a huge fundraiser for him while he was sick,” Stefanie said, adding that the community contributed as well.

“We couldn’t believe the response that we got,” she said.

Ian M. Hassett was a skilled visual artist and musician before his cancer diagnosis, which didn’t deter him from picking up new media and instruments.

Ian had been creative his whole life: He was involved in music since the age of 8 and visual arts since he could draw. He started branching into digital art during his illness. The fundraiser at Righetti paid for a workstation with which Ian could explore his newfound media.

“He was very eclectic and curious about art,” Stefanie said. “He was always exploring different ways that he could create art.”

Since his passing in 2012, Ian’s scholarship has blossomed into a full-fledged foundation under the umbrella of the Santa Maria Arts Council. Ian was a recipient of the council’s first-place visual arts grant in 2011, so his parents decided to include a grant in his name in 2013.

“The foundation exists to encourage emerging artists to pursue their passion for arts,” Stefanie Hassett said. “We aren’t limiting it to just young artists. We want to also reach adults or young adults who are just discovering their gifts for art.”


A benefit event for the foundation is scheduled for Oct. 5. “Form Over Function” will feature wine, desserts, silent auctions, and live music by a string quartet. Ian played piano most of his life and decided to start studying the violin not long before his passing. His teacher was Lynne Garrett, a Santa Maria Philharmonic Society board member who will be playing in the quartet with Sharon Cooper, Tom Turner, and Jeanne Shumway.

“He played beautifully. That’s one of the things I miss most … hearing him play,” Stefanie said. “The quartet is going to be playing some Baroque and classical music. Ian loved that music. He loved to play Baroque music very loud in his car.”

The proceeds from the event will fund the foundation’s grants and scholarships, as well as some future plans the board of directors is working on.

“We would love to start an artist exchange where artists can bring used art supplies that other artists can pick up for free,” Stefanie said. “Art supplies can be terribly expensive for young artists especially.


“We would also like to host and fund a gallery show for young artists and offer them a venue where they can hopefully sell their art for the first time,” she added,

Ian’s innate creativity inspired his family to continue his legacy in a positive way, Stefanie explained.

“For some folks, they are intuitively creative, but some things in life get in the way,” she said. “So we want to remove some of those obstacles so people can continue to go down those avenues and explore their art.”

Whether it’s music, drawing, painting, sculpting, or digital art—all media that Ian enjoyed—the foundation will be supporting local emerging artists for some time to come. The foundation is hoping to receive support from the community through fundraisers and other events similar to the Oct. 5 “Form Over Function” event.

Join the support
“Form Over Function” is an intimate evening featuring wine, dessert, silent auctions, and a live string quartet as a benefit for the Ian M. Hassett Foundation on Oct. 5 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Costa de Oro Tasting Room, 1331 Nicholson Ave., Santa Maria. Cost is $50. More info: 878-1334 or ianmhassett.com.

“As a parent who is grieving the loss of a child it is important for us that he is not forgotten,” Stefanie said, “and he gave us a wonderful avenue through which to pursue that. He left us a lot of tools to work with in keeping his memory alive.”


Arts Editor Joe Payne also blasts Baroque music in his car. Contact him at jpayne@santamariasun.com.

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