In 1992, artist Andrew Rush and twenty art friends began The Drawing Studio in Tucson, AZ, to offer instruction and fellowship to artists/art students outside traditional institutions. Our participants were largely motivated by career or avocational intentions. TDS experienced modest steady growth throughout the 1990s. We began our quarterly newsletter in 1994. We began a “friends of TDS” Associates program in 1998, and by 1999, support was widespread enough that TDS incorporated and received 501c3 status in 2000.
By 2001, a growing number of participants came, not because of career intentions, but in response to a strong urge to practice drawing and related skills as a way to explore perceptually and kinesthetically the very nature of observation. New participants came because someone who had studied at TDS shared how their newfound art practice had transformed their life in ways they found valuable enough to pass along to others. Our students challenged us to rethink our assumptions about what TDS should be and do.
In 2001, we expanded our physical operations to respond better to this interest, drawing on our financial reserves to do so, and moved to a 3800 SF building on 4th Avenue. We also began our Art of Summer program for teens. In 2004, after a two-year reexamination of our mission and programs, we clarified our mission and expanded staffing and programming, again responding to community interest and drawing on our financial reserves. Both times, we were able to recoup our investment within two years. In 2005, we began our OATS program for seniors (though it was not until late 2007 that we were able to implement more than a pilot program).
In Summer 2007, we undertook an even more ambitious expansion to a 10,000 SF building in the heart of downtown Tucson. The studio opened to the public in January 2008. The studio has flexible studios and labs for instruction and independent use; expanded exhibition (including storage and prep) space; library, lounge, and workspaces promoting fellowship, research, and curriculum development; rentable space for community activities, and administrative space. Civic and business leaders support our presence as an anchor in their downtown revitalization efforts.
We are fast becoming a 24/7 center for art studio practice. We view the practice of art as a life-long exploration that includes continuous learning from each other.
Vision, Mission, Values
Vision: People will experience life more deeply and will participate creatively in our community with generosity and joy.
Mission: The mission of The Drawing Studio is to cultivate the skills of visual intelligence in people of any age or walk of life through art studio practice.
Values: The Drawing Studio is
Challenging and Innovative—We are dedicated to innovative growth in visual language communication. We foster personal growth challenges.
Accessible and Inclusive—We welcome students of any age, walk of life, experience level or skill. We create a community of support for an indivdual's learning and growth.
Ethical and Responsible—We are committed to the long term. We are responsible to the greatest number of people. We engage in sound ethical and financial practices.