Scottsdale Artists’ School pays tribute to a ‘goal setting’ founder


Maxine Johnston was honored in April with a celebration that included her portrait by Chris Saper. (Submitted photo)

The Scottsdale Artists’ School last month celebrated one of its founders, Maxine Johnston, for her 35 years of devotion to the school, its staff and students.

In 1983, Ms. Johnston, Wade Fairchild and Jim Reynolds spearheaded an idea to form an art school in Scottsdale where working professional artists could teach the fundamentals of art to students seeking opportunities to become more expertly trained in the fields of drawing, painting, sculpting and other mediums.

A youth class at Scottsdale Artists’ School with instructor Devon Meyer. (Submitted photo)

The school opened in September of that year, and artists whose works hang in some of the finest museums came to teach at the school, according to a release.

“I’m a goal setter,” Ms. Johnston said in a toast when she was honored on Sunday, April 29. “We set a goal of being the finest art school in the West. At that time, it was a dream, and at first, we fell way short of that. However, today we do have the right to claim that status. It has taken so many people working together towards a common goal. I was not the only one… I just happen to be the only one left alive!”

In addition to Ms. Johnston being one of the founding directors of the Scottsdale Artists’ School, she served as president of the board of trustees for three years and has been a board member for 26 years. At age 93 she still attends meetings and serves as board chair emeritus. Ms. Johnston, an instructor at the Scottsdale Artists’ School for more than 20 years, is a signature member of Oil Painters of America, a design affiliate of the American Society of Interior Designers, past president of the Scottsdale Artists League and a member of the Arizona Artists Guild.

Her work has appeared in commercially published prints, greeting cards, collector plates and more, the release stated.

“I would not be a gallery artist today if it were not for the instruction that I received here,” Ms. Johnston stated. “The quality instructors we hire at SAS are the best of the best. They taught me how to draw, paint and so much more.”

Scottsdale Artists’ School Executive Director Trudy Hays stated that “sentiment rings true from so many of our artists of all ages who have taken classes and workshops at SAS. From our 6-year-old summer camp students to our 75-year-old drawing beginners, the ability to express one’s self artistically while being taught by professionals is Maxine’s dream realized.”

Artist and author Chris Saper has studied at SAS and exhibited her work at such places as U.S. Senate Rotunda, The Salmagundi Club and The National Arts Club in New York City.

“If you want to be the best, you must study with the best,” Ms. Saper stated.

Ms. Hays stated SAS is continuing to celebrate Ms. Johnston’s vision through the theme of its BEAUX ARTS Gala this year.

“In November, SAS will host its annual fundraiser, and the theme is ‘Dream Big’. In doing this we are hailing our ‘goal setters’ of the past 35 years and setting a place for our future dreamers.”

To learn more about Scottsdale Artists’ School, 3720 N. Marshall Way,  and its programs, visit

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