Head north on Swan Road into the foothills of the Catalinas. You
will cross the Rillito River (usually dry). When you cross over Sunrise
Drive, look on the right hand side of the road for a sign "Gallery
in the Sun". It is at 6300 N. Swan Road. Pull in and park and
you can begin a free tour of one of Tucson's most colorful people.
Rustic, with a hand made look, simplistic yet colorful, the 10 acre
property is filled with Teds whims, ideas and passions. The gallery
itself is an adobe house with many rooms. Sit a spell and watch the
half hour film depicting his life. Discover what caused him to burn
over a million dollars worth of his paintings. Wander through the
rooms and get a feel of his pain and his joy, his self expression
and his love of color and textures. In the gift center, you may purchase
everything from refrigerator magnets, glassware and cards to large
Ted was proud of his accomplishments and could often be seen sitting
in the room behind the counter. It took very little to persuade him
to autograph the prints and they are a common sight in Tucson homes.
Even in the 1940's he was known among artists in the southwest. Barry's
grandmother in southern California took art classes in the 1950's
and she loved painting in his simplistic style.
Ted paid his dues to the establishment. A graduate of Tucson's University
of Arizona, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Education in 1944, his
Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts in 1945.
As you wander through the gallery you may feel bewildered at the
diverse media in which he excelled. Bronze, ceramics, and enamel pieces
are featured throughout the center. Walk into the back courtyard and
wander through the garden and more of his work pops out at you.
Notice the themes in some of the rooms telling stories of events
and people. Ted DeGrazia was born in Morenci, Arizona in 1909 and
died in Tucson in 1982. Probably his most popular works were of children
in colorful but simple clothes and often wearing large sombreros (hats).
Their faces are almost non existent but for their eyes. His work shows
a love of nature and of the Indians and Mexicans in Arizona. Many
of his paintings tell of events in their daily lives and of celebrations
such as Easter and Christmas. Be sure to visit his chapel before you
Ted was first noticed when Arizona Highways magazine began featuring
his work from time to time. Then, in 1958, Hallmark used one of his
pictures on a card, and in 1960 UNICEF selected "Los Ninos"
for its holiday card, which many people consider De Grazia's best-known
painting. This single card was sold by the millions and propelled
Ted into the heart of the artistic world.
We have seen his work on cruise ships, in ski lodges and as far away
as England and Australia. It is fun to see how Ted DegGrazia's fame
took him so far afield but we know Tucson was his home and where he
loved to be.
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