Arts center unveils its 2023 array of creative offerings for, well, almost everybody

Dance-a-thon, Sell-a-thon, Spell-a-thon—pretty much any human activity that can be sustained for any length of time is subject to having the suffix “a-thon” slapped on it. On Saturday, June 24, Tempe Center for the Arts gets into the act with an event designed for anyone who can’t leave a blank space empty if they have a pencil in their hand: “Draw-A-Thon.”

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The annual shindig, held from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the center, celebrates the urge to draw at every level of ambition, from scribbling and doodling to sketching to illustration, and at every level of skill and experience. Every age level is welcome too; the free event is aimed at kids and grownups alike, although it’s kid-friendly during the day, adults only after dark. “Draw-A-Thon originated in the summer of 2018,” says Michelle Dock, senior visual arts curator at TCA.

“Tempe has a strong history of providing arts education programs for the community…We knew that some of our youth visitors’ favorite activities included drawing challenges which sparked their imaginations and problem-solving skills. “While researching ideas for a drawing-themed exhibition, we ran across ‘Draw-A-Thon’ events in cities like Denver, New Orleans and New York. “The idea really clicked…Our visitors and staff alike had such a great time that we decided to make that ‘umbrella theme’ idea our guide for future summer programs.

Even during COVID closures, Draw-A-Thon became an important part of distanced outreach the city needed. In 2020 and 2021, Tempe’s Draw-A-Thons included Facebook live drawing tutorials, DIY art making videos on the city’s YouTube channel and a coloring book which we distributed through the Tempe Public Library, community centers and the Tempe Fire Department.” This year the day unfolds from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the “Family Friendly” portion of the festival.

Draw-A-Thon-ers of all ages will get the chance to try out a variety of drawing tools, ranging from new technological methods of drawing to good old-fashioned pencil and paper. But will there be instruction for people (like this writer) who can’t draw? “Of course!” Dock assures me. “There are so many opportunities for visitors of all ages to enjoy drawing at the event. “Whether your skills include basic doodling, coloring and/or advanced draftsmanship, Draw-A-Thon activities are designed to be fun and welcoming. “We often hear guests talk about how surprised they were to learn some new skills. We also hear from moms, dads, and grandparents about how they enjoyed the art making as much as the kids.” At various art booths, visitors will receive the benefit of instruction and guidance from professional artists, as well as activities, games, food and other fun. “Many of the Draw-A-Thon artists are also educators,” notes Dock, “so they bring with them plenty of experience and practical knowledge about teaching drawing to others.” Then starting at 6 p.m. is the 18 and older part of Draw-A-Thon. Titled “Drag & Draw,” it features not only drawing but drinks, a DJ and local performers Veronica Savage Rose and Thee Koco Caine, who will model extravagant outfits and radiate glamour for the artists in attendance to capture. The “open-studio style” drawing sessions will go on while the music keeps on spinning. “This year,” says Dock, “The artists lined up are focused on inspiring self-expression and creativity with the Hear Me, See Me summer exhibition…Best of all, it’s free and it takes place inside the TCA. A great way to beat the heat and enjoy the arts.”



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