Alec Baldwin, Chevy Chase, Oliver Stone, James Franco and Martin Sheen are only a few elite members of Hollywood who have departed Colorado with a "Vielehr" tucked in their luggage after a trip to the Boulder International Film Festival.

Since the festival's inception nine years ago, winners have walked off the Boulder Theater stage on awards night with more than just a trophy to represent their win -- they also received a little piece of art and a little piece of Boulder.

Designed and created by Boulder-based artist Bill Vielehr, the "Vielehr" award is a smaller version of one of Vielehr's signature sculptures -- described by the artist as "drawings and wax cut up and cast into aluminum."

"The Vielehr," a sculpture that will be presented to award winners at the 2013 Boulder International Film Festival.
"The Vielehr," a sculpture that will be presented to award winners at the 2013 Boulder International Film Festival. (Courtesy photo)

"They're models of ideas that I would do for large sculptures," said Vielehr, whose work is on display at several locations, including inside the Boulder Public Library and at the Charles A. Haertling Sculpture Park at Ninth and Canyon.

Trained as a figurative sculptor, Vielehr was always fascinated with drawings and markings. He began playing with textures and eventually developed his own way to present his unique abstract work.

Each year, Vielehr

produces about 12 awards

to be handed out to winners during the BIFF awards

ceremony. Much like Boulder and its beloved film event, each Vielehr is a one-of-a-kind creation, though the artist typically follows a general design each year.

"It's pretty fun," Vielehr said. "The winners are expecting an Oscar-like trophy and they get a piece of art."

In the mid-1990s, Kathy Beeck, BIFF co-founder and former regional marketing director for the former Wild Oats Markets, helped develop a marketing strategy as a favor to her friend Vielehr.

Years later, Beeck reached out to Vielehr seeking a favor of her own: She asked him to sit on the board of directors for the newly formed Boulder International Film Festival.

During discussions leading to the inaugural festival, the board of directors threw around several ideas about the design of the awards to be given out at the festival and who could create something that would effectively represent the festival and Boulder alike.

"At a certain point, the light bulb kind of went off," Vielehr said.

The board agreed Vielehr was the right person for the job, and highly respected actors and filmmakers have been making room next to their Oscars and Golden Globes for their "Vielehr" award ever since.

To learn more about

Vielehr and his art, visit vielehr.com.