OCTOBER 31, 2012
Valley artist, teacher continues to leave indelible impression with students, community
CAVE CREEK – Robin Ray arrived in the Valley 28 years ago and has left an indelible impression ever since.
She has formed alliances with and has attracted professional artists to Arizona through her vision and has inspired generations of art students through her teaching and mentoring.
Ray is a participating artist once again in the flagship event of Sonoran Arts League – Hidden in the Hills Studio Art Tour. Actually she was one of the founders of what has become the largest six-day art tour in the state.
“The idea was born when several local artists and I discussed combining our individual home shows on Thanksgiving weekend. We collaborated, merged mailing lists and launched the first tour,” Ray explained. “And it’s been a monumental success ever since.”
In its 16th year, the HITH Studio Art Tour is bigger than ever with more participating artists and studios. “It’s a wonderful event that draws artists to the community and brings the community into our studios. Lasting friendships are developed,” Ray said.
Ray earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Arizona State University and her Masters degree in ceramics from Northern Arizona University. She also studied art throughout Asia and Africa.
For the last 26 years Ray has taught drawing, painting, printmaking and ceramics. Her students are in high school, community colleges and adult classes. Ray is currently in her 26th year at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek where she once served as Department Chair for the Arts.
“I love what I teach. I love to bring art to the table, to share,” Ray said. “Although I had planned to retire this year, I was offered a part-time job at Cactus Shadows. So now I have the freedom to teach and mentor during the mornings and create outside the confines of a regular school schedule the rest of the day.”
When not in the classroom, Ray can be found painting in watercolor and creating her signature custom murals. “I love to use lots of colors, to create depth on flat surfaces with texture and pattern,” Ray explained. “My work is very whimsical.”
Ray’s murals get rave reviews. The one at Carefree Highway and 60th Street was created by the artist 15 years ago and re-painted again last summer. When Phoenix-based Desert Foothills Landscaping photographed and submitted some of their work, Ray’s mural was in the background. “It was a great opportunity because my mural was featured on the front cover and inside spread of the March 2012 issue of Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine,” Ray said.
Other Ray murals can be found at Dixileta Gardens, Gateway Park and in many private homes.
Sonoran Arts League has focused on its YouthArt program for years and Ray remains active on the League’s Art Education Committee where she helps oversee scholarships, field trips, awards and alumni events.
“Many of my former students are now professional artists. Some are successful painters, some have developed clothing lines, while others have created marketing brands for restaurants,” Ray said.
“Art has touched the lives of so many young people. I think the impact is far greater than many realize,” Ray said.
The house Ray moved into nearly three decades ago still serves as her home and art studio. Called Robin’s Nest, the studio is #41 on the Hidden in the Hills Studio Art Tour. It’s located at 5920 Surrey Dr., Cave Creek.
“This year I have two new artists joining me,” she said. “I like to change it up regularly and bring in new talent.” They are Beth Benowich (fine jewelry and bronze) and William F. Colligen (gourds.) Returning to her studio will be Gordon P. Mischke (metal, stone and wood.)
Many of the artists who have been guests at Robin’s Nest Studio now show their work at Scottsdale’s Celebration and EXPO tent shows.
One of Ray’s favorite parts of the HITH tour is the student bus tour. Annually the League provides a bus tour for 50+ Cactus Shadows high school art students and their teachers to visit selected Hidden in the Hills artist studios. “I really enjoy having them see me at work. I’m not sane if I’m not a producing artist!”