Tubac Center of the Arts is the core of Tubac’s artistic heritage and identity. We pursue excellence in serving as a venue for artistic expression, appreciation and learning for those who create and enjoy art in southern Arizona.
Tubac Center of the Arts – A History
In 1961, a nucleus of artists organized into the Santa Cruz Valley Art Association (SCVAA). Their mission was “. . . to contribute to the education and development of a potentially art-conscious and art-consuming public, by showing the public that art is something they live with and enjoy, and can afford to buy. The artist has an essential skill to sell which is a cultural and aesthetic contribution to the entire Valley.”
Theodora “Teddy” McCurdy, a former president, in an oral history interview conducted by the Tubac Historical Society in 1987, recalled, “The early days of the SCVAA were informal but stimulating. Meetings were held in the homes of members and if one had to sit on the floor that was all right, too. If the river was high, it in itself added a further dramatic touch.”
Membership grew from 80 members in 1963-64 to 470 members by 1969-70. SCVAA was incorporated as a nonprofit, charitable arts organization in 1963, solidifying its structure and paving the way for fund raising, promotional and educational efforts.
SCVAA took on the Tubac Festival of the Arts as a project in 1964 and ran it for nearly a decade. Artist members conducted painting and craft classes.
The organization moved its exhibitions to the old adobe building north of St. Ann’s Church which had a long tradition of showcasing Tubac artist’s work and included Dale Nichols’ art school, Ross Stefan’s studio and gallery, Marjorie Nichol’s Low Ruins Gallery and Alfonso Flores’ Las Tiendas de Tubac. But their presence there was temporary. It became apparent that if the SCVAA was to continue growing, it needed a permanent home of its own.
In 1969, the Charney Mathesons donated several lots, which were to become the future site of the Tubac Center of the Arts (TCA).
The members initiate a capital campaign to raise funds for the building. The organization pulled together and artists offered what they could. They conducted a “Starvin Artist Sidewalk Sale” featuring “priceless” works of art by Tubac painters, potters and jewelers. Sales ranged from fifty cents to $35 with proceeds benefitting the SCVAA Building Fund.
Quality art exhibits energized the effort and gave Tubac credence and drew a wider audience. Navajo artist R.C. Gorman, whose stature as an artist had gained national attention, had a one-man exhibit of his paintings, lithographs and drawings in support of the campaign. An energetic fund drive, $40,000 in 40 Days, began in January 1972 and coincided with construction. More than enough funds were finally raised.
On October 21, 1972, The Tubac Center of the Arts was dedicated mortgage free. The opening of the new fully furnished facility was celebrated appropriately with a members’ exhibition. The building was the pride of the community and reflected a tangible “bricks and mortar” commitment to the arts in Tubac.
Doris Fouch came from the Art Institute of Chicago and was the first paid executive director of the Tubac Center of the Arts from 1974 – 1984. “Somewhere along the line TCA had became more than a small artists’ association in a very small town in Arizona.” Fouch stated in a Tubac Historical Society interview.
Fouch recalled that when her replacement took the helm in 1984, SCVAA, which supported the Center, had grown to 850 members – a third from Tubac, a third from Green Valley and a third from Tucson and across the nation.
Under the direction of Pat Marohn, a significant artist in her own right, the Center followed a course of expanded recognition throughout the country.
In 2011 another capital campaign began for a building expansion that includes a permanent Master Artist Gallery, a workshop space, library/conference room, break room, shipping room, storage space and new restrooms. The building construction broke ground on March 14, 2012. The expansion opened during the annual meeting, October 21, 2012, 40 years to the day of the original art center opening.
Presently, the Center sponsors a variety of member artist, regional and national exhibits, a performing arts series, art and cultural workshops for adults and children including the Summer Arts Program for Children, a literary review group, an arts lecture series, and cultural travel services.
The board of directors, experienced in the arts, education, law and business, continues to reflect the diversity of community support for the organization and the Center. And, there are over 150 volunteers whose valuable contributions garner appreciation from the board, staff and community.