March FSL Lecture Highlights Life and Art of Ted DeGrazia

Ted DeGrazia was a well-known Tucson artist whose life and work are shown at the Gallery of the Sun.

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

In March at the DesertView Theater, the Friends of SaddleBrooke Libraries (FSL) lecture will focus on the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun located in Tucson. The gallery celebrates both the life of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia and his art. Established in 1950 by DeGrazia, the Gallery is a Tucson tradition that is a favorite among visitors and local Tucsonans alike. DeGrazia and his work are characterized by their rebellious approach and passionate depiction of Southwestern life. Note: At press time, the date for this lecture was not yet finalized. Please consult the FSL website for up-to-date information.

Ettore DeGrazia, the son of Italian immigrants, was born in 1909 in the Morenci mining camp of Territorial Arizona. His early childhood experiences in the ethnically diverse community evolved into a lifelong appreciation of native cultures in the Sonoran Desert and a passion to create art depicting their lives and lore. As an adult, after working briefly in the Phelps Dodge mine, DeGrazia soon hitched a ride to Tucson with his trumpet and $15 in his pocket. He enrolled at the University of Arizona in 1933. He eventually moved to Bisbee and began painting. In 1942 on a trip to Mexico City, he met Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican muralist. This encounter led to an internship with Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco. The two Mexican masters then sponsored a solo exhibition of DeGrazia’s paintings at the prestigious Palacio de Bellas Artes.

After returning to Tucson, DeGrazia bought an acre of land with $25 down at Prince Road and Campbell Avenue to build his first adobe studio in 1944 and also received a B.A. in education from the University of Arizona. The following year he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, plus a Master of Arts. Through the years, his paintings, ceramics, and other artwork steadily attracted media attention, including UNICEF choosing his 1957 oil painting Los Niños for a greeting card that sold millions.

Lance Labor was born in Tucson and attended the University of Arizona. He started working at the Gallery of the Sun in 1982, becoming the executive director in 2005. Growing up with Ted DeGrazia’s stepson and his children, Labor’s connection to DeGrazia began at around age five. He will share stories about the artist, show some of DeGrazia’s original artwork, and provide information about the gallery’s exhibits.

This lecture is free for FSL members and $5 for nonmembers.