Building Studios and Community in Tucson: Jeanne Jerousek-McAnich

When Jeanne Jerousek-McAnich arrived in Tucson in 1976 after receiving her MFA in metals from Kent State University, she transformed Tucson into an artist’s haven.  She initially taught design and drawing classes at Pima Community College, but (in a rare and brilliant move) the City of Tucson soon hired her on full-time in the Parks and Recreation Department to teach community classes in jewelry, lapidary, drawing, and painting as well as some youth classes. Given free reign to create new classes and a posh annual budget of $1000-$3000, she soon began purchasing kilns and equipment to teach classes in enameling and casting and expanding the reach of arts programs for Tucson residents.  Under Jeanne’s initiative, Tucson become a mecca for visiting artist workshops. Jeanne recalls, “I found out that Eleanor Moty - one of my favorite artists - was a sabbatical replacement at the University of AZ. I went down there starstruck, asked her to do the first workshop in 1978 on photo-etching. She agreed! Eleanor started a long line of hundreds of visiting artists workshops including Mary Hu, Philip Fike, etc.”

Jeanne began the photography program from scratch, which began as a traditional studio, but has expanded to include digital photography.  As Tucson’s Leisure Program Coordinator, she oversees studios and programs jewelry and lapidary, lampworking and glass casting, photography, ceramics, and drawing/painting. (Up until very recently, Tucson also offered classes in weaving.)  Over the years, she's scraped by with her often meager allotted budget, slowly equipping each studio with state of the art equipment and tools as well as hiring instructors for specific classes.  She also serves as the volunteer workshop coordinator for Arizona Designer Craftsmen and is the author of Chain Making Link by Link (available for purchase through Starr Gems)

Although the glory days of $3000 budgets are long gone, replaced by the current pittance of a budget, Jeanne is still hard at work providing Tucson residents with excellent arts opportunities.  She works with the available resources at hand.  Over the years, students and former instructors donated everything from torches, lapidary equipment, kilns, casting centrifuges, tumblers, and hand tools, which helps keep the studios afloat especially in this troubled economic environment.  Tucson is fortunate to have these amazing studios and luckier still to have an ambassador of the arts in Jeanne Jerousek-McAnich. 

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Hey thanks, Charity.  I missed much of the back story when I met her three or four years ago.  It's a great program and I was wondering how they fared through the economy.  Good to know about her book.  I'd missed that too!

This look's a truly great program.

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