The Gallery in the Sun

Located at the base of the Santa Catalina mountains, the natural desert setting in the north foothills of Tucson sets the scene for the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Historic District.  What started as a small construction project in 1951 by local artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, soon became a 13 building, artistic and architectural manifestation of the artist sprawled over 10 acres.  Each brick and adobe building was hand built by DeGrazia and his friends. In 1965 the gallery/museum was completed and opened to the public and remains so today as a celebration of DeGrazia's work and life. In 2006 the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.

 

About the Artist

Ettore “Ted DeGrazia is one of the Southwest’s most famous artists. Most prominently known for his colorful images of Native American children and depictions of the American Southwest, he was an impressionist, painter, sculptor, composer, actor, director, designer, architect, jeweler and lithographer.  Born the son of Italian Immigrants in 1909 in Morenci, Arizona. It was here that his love of the Sonoran Desert and his appreciation of native cultures developed. He spent his early adult life between Tucson and Bisbee, AZ dabbling in different mediums and interning with other local artists such as Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco.  Not to be dismayed by being rejected by every local gallery to showcase his work; in 1944 he bought an acre of land in Tucson at Prince and Campbell to build his own studio. Also that year he graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Education and the following year with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts as well as a Master’s of Fine Arts.  It was shortly after the opening of his studio that he met Marion Sheret, a talented artist in her own right, when she visited his studio. They were married in the year 1947. Together they bought the 10 acre foothills land in 1950 and began construction on what would become the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Historic District. In the mid 1950’s, DeGrazia finally started to get recognition as a talented artist and in 1960 UNICEF chose his oil painting titled “Los Niños” for their holiday card.  The sales of which sold millions worldwide and made DeGrazia a household name.  DeGrazia and the gallery enjoyed continued success over the next couple of decades.  Before his death in 1982, DeGrazia created the DeGrazia Foundation, entrusting the foundation to preserve and share his work and architecture for future generations. This foundation continues to work today, offering sessions for children to not only understand the history of DeGrazia, but also learn the different art mediums and techniques.

"Because I was born in the southwest, and live there, I live it with a passion." ~ Ted DeGrazia

Diego Rivera and DeGrazia "Los Niños" DeGrazia in front of main gallery entrance

Visiting the Gallery

Address:  6300 N Swan Rd, Tucson, AZ 85718

The DeGrazia property and museum is open to the public every day of the week from 10am - 4pm. 

Closed on New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Admission fees                                    Annual Memberships
Adults - $8.00                                    Individual - $25.00 (includes two buddy passes)
Ages 12-18 - $5.00                            Family - $55.00 (includes four buddy passes)
12 and under are free

Upon arrival to the property, visitors are advised to enter through the main gallery.  Built in 1965, the main gallery, also known as The Gallery in the Sun is home to the largest collection of Ted DeGrazia's work.  Like all of the buildings on the property it was hand built by DeGrazia himself along with help from friends and constructed of traditional adobe bricks made onsite. The entrance to the main gallery is adorned by two grand iron gates that were designed as a replica of the Yuma Territorial Prison gate.  The inside of the main gallery boasts unique design features such as cactus flooring and exposed wood beams and rafters.  Located throughout the numerous rooms, the gallery is home to six permanent collections of DeGrazia's original work as well as rotating collections throughout the year.  These include oil paintings, watercolors, ceramics, and enamel on bronze artwork.  The gallery even offers a room about the history of DeGrazia himself. In here you can find pictures of DeGrazia throughout his career and awards that he and his gallery have received on display. Also, provided is a 30 minute video biography produced by DeGrazia in the early 80's that loops throughout the day while the gallery is open.  

Iron gates at gallery entranceCactus flooring / wood beamsGallery room showcasing different mediums Gallery room featuring replica studio

All tours throughout the museum are self guided.  Visitors are welcome to explore the main gallery and encouraged to venture outside and explore the 10-acre foothills site.  Throughout the property visitors will find more buildings including the original home of Ted and Marion DeGrazia along with their burial sites, a cactus corral and a chapel which is the most well known structure: The Mission in the Sun.  The first building on the site, The Mission in the Sun was dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe and to the memory of Padre Eusebio Kino.  DeGrazia hand painted every wall with murals and included a large painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the brick altar.  Visitors have used the Mission as their own spiritual site often leaving photos, candles and other mementos.  The Mission has also hosted many weddings throughout the years, with all faiths and individuals welcome.  Unfortunately on May 30, 2017 a fire heavily damaged the Mission. Fortunately at the time of the fire there were no hanging pictures by DeGrazia inside the chapel, but walls, murals and the roof were damaged.  The chapel is currently closed to the public while it is being restored.  The foundation is hopeful that it will reopen late in 2019. 

DeGrazia's gravesite Mission in the Sun before fire damage Mission in the Sun before fire damage Mission in the Sun fire damage

 

Within the main building is a gift shop which offers reproduction note cards, calendars, prints and posters along with many gift items such as bells, ornaments, coasters, mugs, figurines, and vases. Copies of DeGrazia’s books, featuring his prints, artwork and commentary can also be purchased. Many of DeGrazia’s original works are also available.

The Buildings

  • Mission in the Sun 1952
  • DeGrazia House 1952
  • Island House 1954 (demolished)
  • Ceramics Studio 1954
  • Brian's House 1955
  • Ghost House 1956
  • Gate House 1960
  • Gallery in the Sun 1965
  • Garage 1966
  • Nun's house 1968
  • Underground House 1969
  • Apartment 1972

Current Exhibits (Rotational) - (As of January 31, 2020 - September 2, 2020)

1st Exhibit: "DeGrazia's Circus"

2nd Exhibit: "DeGrazia's Saguaro Harvest"

3rd Exhibit: "Abstract Paintings of Ted DeGrazia"

Permanent Collection Exhibits

1st Exhibit: "DeGrazia and Padre Kino"

2nd Exhibit: "DeGrazia Paints Cabeza de Vaca"

3rd Exhibit: "DeGrazia Paints Papago Indian Legends"

4th Exhibit: "Retrospective Collection"

5th Exhibit: "DeGrazia Paints the Yaqui Easter"

6th Exhibit: "DeGrazia Paints the Bullfight"

Little Gallery

This section is for up and coming artists that want a chance to have their artwork displayed. You must submit an application, showing your artwork, which will be sent to the DeGrazia Foundation for review and a chance to be accepted.

The exhibitions that vary over the course of time display different collections of oils, sketches, watercolors, serigraphs, lithographs, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry.

More information about Ted DeGrazia can be found at the gallery's website, http://degrazia.org/ and at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ettore_DeGrazia. This Wikipedia site is regularly maintained by the DeGrazia Foundation.

 

 

References: DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun brochure, DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun Catalog of Reproductions, the DeGrazia website at http://degrazia.org/