Drawing Studio’s new facade welcomes new exhibition

October 4, 2011

By Teya Vitu


A new façade and new landscape exhibition open the fall season for The Drawing Studio, 33 S. Sixth Ave.

The façade overhaul brings vertical stripes of burnt sienna and burgundy onto a warm white field above the windows. And the barred windows are now screened by an accordion pleated perforated steel mesh. New tile was installed at the foot of the façade.

“We have been wanting for a while to emphasize the Art Deco design. It kind of got lost up there,” said Lynn Fleischman, The Drawing Studio’s executive director.

The new look at The Drawing Studio presents the fifth finished historic Downtown façade project for the Façade Improvement Program managed by the Downtown Tucson Partnership. The Drawing Studio had to match dollar-for-dollar the $4,163.25 it received from the privately-funded façade program. The Gibson Family, which owns the building, contributed to The Drawing Studio match.

The second phase of façade improvements was nicknamed “paint and awnings” because the funding was drastically reduced to a maximum $5,000 per approved project.

“Our version of the awning is the mesh accordion. We rusted it to match the gates,” Fleischman said. “It cuts the heat tremendously. We all said it’s 10 degrees cooler in here.”

Drawing Studio founder Andy Rush was the chief designer working off a staff consensus for the new look, and Paul Mohr was the project manager for its installation.

The façade design worked off The Drawing Studio’s rusted prickly pear pads entry gate by sculptor Jason Butler.

Fleischman envisions more for the façade. In the coming weeks, Rush will add tile murals to the south and north ends of the façade. And, whenever the money is in hand, Fleischman wants to add colored lighting to the upper façade.

Inside, Drawing Studio faculty Betina Fink and Meredith Milstead have a dual exhibition through Nov. 5 called “Landscape (Un) Tamed: Order and Chaos in the Natural World.”

Both artists present the contrast of painting outside in nature (untamed) and painting landscapes in the studio (tamed).

“To me, when I go out, I do raw painting,” said Fink, who is The Drawing Studio’s Youth Programs directors and teaches oil painting and drawing with color. “When you get into your studio, you kind of go with what’s happening with the painting and it grows with time.”

For both Fink and Milstead, the small paintings were done outdoors and the large paintings stem from the studio.

Betina Fink painted landscapes in nature and in the studio for the latest exhibition at The Drawing Studio.

Fink’s en plein air work has more of an uncontrolled wildness, while in the studio she paints more inside the lines, so to speak. Milstead is the opposite with her chalk pastels.

“In field work, my full attention is on the subject in front of me,” Said Milstead, who teaches Drawing Fundamentals 1 and 2 at The Drawing Studio and is now adding Drawing Fundamentals 3 color and composition. “In the studio, it requires a process of manipulation of the subject which is more intuitive. In the studio, I use elements of the field work and abstract them.”

Milstead’s landscapes, realistic and abstract, stem from Tumamoc Hill and southern Colorado. Fink set up her easel mostly in Aravaipa but also in Patagonia, El Malpais in New Mexico and Brandywine River in her native Delaware.

“When you’re out in nature, your art is in the physical wilderness,” Fink said. “There’s a whole other experience that happens. It’s uncontrolled. If you go off and work en plein air, there’s a spiritual essence it has.”

Fink has been on The Drawing Studio faculty since 1995, and for the past eight summers she has run the Art of Summer youth program, which this summer saw a 20 percent increase in enrollments among 9- to 18-year-olds to 160 kids. This has included gang outreach with the Tucson Police Department, and this fall will have a new drawing program at six Boys & Girls Club club houses.

As often is the case, Fink the teacher learns from her student and it impacts her own art work.

“Tremendously,” she said. “It has changed my art work in the way of observing observation. I appreciate more the nature of studio practice and the attention to nuance and presence of mind. I had to teach color theory and became curious about how it would affect my art work.”

The results can be seen at “Landscapes (Un) Tamed.”