Artist finds a home teaching classes at SunDust Gallery & Studio

SunDust Gallery & Studio, TruWest Credit Union
Groups like this one from TruWest Credit Union can use the studio for team-building exercises. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Groups like this one from TruWest Credit Union can use the studio for team-building exercises. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Image description
Ron Floyd’s wife tells him he works more now than he did before he retired. “As long as my health is good, I don’t see any reason to really stop,” he said. (Photos by Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Chandler-Gilbert Community College student Alexa Peace (left) is one of the artists who work as part-time instructors at the studio. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Private lessons, for children or adults, are one service offered at the gallery. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
SunDust Art Gallery set is set up in the former space of a dance studio that went out of business. A former mirror for the dance studio was painted over with yellow because, Ron Floyd quips, "we couldn't stand looking at ourselves that much." (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Ron Floyd created this fish sculpture, which was on display for years at Encanto Park in Phoenix. When the park did renovations, it was offered back to Floyd, who uses it a studio mascot. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
In his life, Ron Floyd has teetered between Tennessee and Arizona and between art and marketing. But in retirement, he said he has found that helping others make art in Gilbert is where he belongs.

“You kind of reach that age where you go, ‘I just want to do what I really want do,’” he said.

He is doing just that at SunDust Gallery & Studio, which has evolved in its 10 years in business from a gallery space for working artists into a place for art classes and personal painting.

Floyd never took up art until college at the University of Tennessee, where he finished with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art, after which he went into marketing. In hindsight, he might have done it differently, he said.

“But then, I had a friend who said, ‘If you hadn’t done this and this and this, you wouldn’t have been here,’” Floyd said. “‘Your path would have been different. It might have been just as good, but it would have been different.’ I was torn between starving artist and marketing.”

With encouragement from his wife, Mary, he went back into art. That culminated in opening SunDust Gallery 10 years ago in Mesa, which was then primarily a gallery space for local artists to display and sell art.

Floyd said they gravitated to doing classes when the economy turned sour and people stopped buying art.

They moved to Gilbert four years ago and into their current space, a former dance studio, three years ago. Floyd said the 3,000-square-foot space with three event rooms has served them well and actually moved them closer to their classes’ clientele.

Floyd said the business has three different business “pots” from which to draw. It has regular classes and private lessons, 60% of which are for children. It has open studio time where people can come in, take a canvas off the wall and just paint. And it has events, including team-buildings, birthday parties, bachelorette parties or a group of friends coming in.

“It’s like going bowling or going painting or going ax-throwing or whatever, you know,” Floyd said. “It’s an experience, and people enjoy it.”

Popular classes

Owner Ron Floyd said two of his classes have proven to be the most popular.

Paint and Sip

This is strictly BYOB and self-serve, but each patron can come in, pick a picture to paint and get help from the studio’s artists to paint it from 7-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Pet Painting

After registering, guests can send the gallery a picture of their pet. It will be sketched and ready for them to paint when they come in for class, which runs from 3-5 p.m.

SunDust Gallery & Studio

183 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 109, Gilbert


Hours: Sun., Tue. noon-5 p.m.; Mon., Wed., Thu. noon-6 p.m.; Fri. noon-9 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.