Your Eyes Feast For More At The DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun
The DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun – A Hidden Gem In Tucson AZ
Acclaimed southwest artist Ted DeGrazia designed and built The DeGrazia Gallery In the Sun. It started as a small project in the Catalina Foothills in the early 1950’s. But evolved into a 10 acre National Historic District treasure.
The DeGrazia Gallery in the Catalina Foothills was his second and most famous studio.
His first studio was at the corner of Campbell Avenue and Prince Road. This studio was close to the city and the University of Arizona where DeGrazia was a student.
But as Tucson grew, DeGrazia felt he needed more space. A place without a lot of people to intrude on his work. So he and is wife Marion purchased a more remote piece of land in the Foothills of the Catalina Mountains.
DeGrazia Designed And Built The DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun
DeGrazia sketched out the design for the studio. He then corral a few of his friends to start construction. His design utilized adobe bricks for construction. Soil and water are the materials used to make Adobe bricks. Soil was plentiful, but water was not. DeGrazia hauled water from Tucson to make the bricks. All the Adobe bricks used in the construction were made on site.
DeGrazia stated “The gallery was designed by me. I wanted to have the feeling of the Southwest. I wanted to build it so that my paintings would feel good inside.”
There are many rooms in the DeGrazia Gallery. Perhaps 10. Visitors will not only enjoy the art work, but the architectural detail of the gallery itself.
The iron gates in the front of the DeGrazia Gallery are a replica of the Yuma Territorial Prison gates. Designed and crafted by DeGrazia. The DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun opened to the public in 1965. When the gates opened, visitors poured in. And continue to do so today.
There are over 15,000 works of art at the DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun. But they are not all on display at the same time. Six permanent collections are on display. Each has a unique theme and on display in a separate rooms of DeGrazia Gallery.
There are also “rotating” exhibits. DeGrazia prints, paintings and sculptures adorn different rooms throughout the year.
About the man behind the DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun
Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia was born on June 14, 1909 and raised in the southwest. He was the son Italian immigrants working at the Morenci mining camp in the Arizona Territory.
Morenci was a diverse ethnic community and believed to be the inspiration for his art.
When he was 11, the mine closed. His parents returned to Italy with Ettore and his six siblings. Five years later, the mine reopened and the family returned to Morenci.
At the age of 16, Ettore again entered first grade to relearn English. One of his teachers gave him the nickname “Ted”. Ted DeGrazia graduated from Morenci High School at the age of 23.
DeGrazia worked in the mines in Morenci for a short time. But he had a different calling. He hitched a ride to Tucson and enrolled at the University of Arizona in 1933.
While at the U of A, he met Alexandra Diamos. Her father was the owner of the Fox Theater. They married and moved to Bisbee where Ted became manager of the Lyric Theater. Also owned by the family. Although the couple divorced in 1946, Bisbee is where Ted DeGrazia began his life in art.
On a vacation in Mexico City in 1942, DeGrazia and Alexandra met famed muralist Diego Rivera. This random encounter landed DeGrazia an internship with Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. Two Mexican masters of this period. They sponsored an exhibition of DeGrazia’s paintings at the prestigious Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Their relationship gave DeGrazia immediate recognition and notoriety.
Return To Tucson AZ
DeGrazia returned to Tucson in 1944. Unfortunately, galleries had no interest in his showing is work. So DeGrazia purchased an acre of land at Campbell Avenue and Prince Road to build his first studio.
That year he also earned a BA in Education from the U of A. And the following year earned a Master of Arts degree.
He met his second wife at his first studio. One day noted sculptor Marion Sheret walked in. They married in 1947. A few years later they purchased land in the Catalina Foothills to build the DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun.
Media coverage in the 1950’s gave Ted DeGrazia national attention. It put him and The DeGrazia Gallery Of The Sun on the map.
Between the early 1960’s and mid 1970’s DeGrazia paintings and art work sold at a furious pace. Sales soared and DeGrazia became wealthy.
Shortly before is death in 1982, DeGrazia established the DeGrazia Foundation. Its mission is to ensure the preservation of his art and architecture.
Although best known for his paintings, DeGrazia was a true multi-media artist. DeGrazia was a master of all art! Furniture, silver, and of course paintings. His design and architectural details of Gallery in the Sun are also exceptional.
The building displays his talent for three dimensional art. The DeGrazia Gallery building almost over shadows his two dimensional paintings on display.
At the gallery, visitors can view a continuous, 20-min. film about Mr. DeGrazia and his work. It’s obvious he had a genuine love for the southwest and Arizona history.
The DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun is a great place to spend an afternoon. The gallery is a notable Tucson attraction and should be on everyones list of “things to do in Tucson, AZ“.
And before you leave, visit the Mission in the Sun on the property. Built in 1952 it is DeGrazia’s original home and his grave-site.
Interested in owning an original DeGrazia? Check out consignment room. Here anyone can buy an original DeGrazia – for a price worthy of his name.
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