Drawing Studio buys next-door convenience store to expand space
The Drawing Studio is expanding to an adjacent Midtown building to create more art studios and a venue for exhibits.
The arts education nonprofit group, founded in 1992 by Tucson artist Andrew Rush, grew out of its former Downtown location in 2015. It is now expanding beyond the former Ted's Country Store building with the purchase of a former Circle K store next door.
The gallery and teaching space is at the corner of North Tucson Boulevard and East Glenn Street. The Drawing Studio bought the 2,700-square-foot convenience store building, constructed in 1978, for $321,000.
The building will need to be renovated for gallery use.
"It will be a place for us to be able to realize in real physical form The Drawing Studio's unique ability to establish a sense of place and belonging for really all people," program director Anton Russell said. They're calling the property "Building 2" until they give it an official name.
And with the work by architect Michael Becherer of Swaim and Associates, The Drawing Studio's faculty and staff is looking forward to a new year with more space to reach even more budding artists.
"This doubles the organization's footprint and will enable them to develop the entire corner as an arts learning, gathering and exhibit venue for the entire Tucson community," a press release said.
They have completed the first phase of a three-phase process to improve the complex. The first phase included improvements made to the main building as well as adding studio spaces there.
"What this space will provide is just that — space," Russell said.
Development manager Anthony Avila said the new building "means we can offer more free opportunities and community partnerships."
The group is creating an outdoor studio space and completing a surrounding garden.
The second phase will begin Jan. 29 with a gathering celebrating the purchase from 3-5 p.m in The Drawing Studio, 2760 N. Tucson Blvd. After that, they will work on remodeling, electrical upgrades and other necessities. They are also planning on connecting the buildings, as they're separated by a narrow passage.
The Drawing Studio was founded to offer art lovers an alternative to traditional art institutes and other conventional educational models.
They wanted to supplement that learning with a place where artists could build and foster their communities.
First located in an old market in Armory Park, the group had a space on 4th Avenue before growing into a larger site in part of the former Johnny Gibson's gym equipment company on 6th Avenue in Downtown. After seven years, the expanding art organization purchased its home on Glenn and Tucson.
Russell said not every artist has access to a traditional education at an institute or university. People who are interested in improving their craft can go to The Drawing Studio and learn "the same skills and techniques," he said.
The group provides scholarship opportunities and host a "summer camp" called Art of Summer where youth can learn art. They also host free lessons through their R.E.A.D.I program — Race, Equity, Access, Diversity and Inclusion.
Bianca Morales is TucsonSentinel.com’s Cultural Expression and Community Values reporter, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.