Gallery in the Sun (Part 1)

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I first heard of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia in Phoenix in early 2015. Nolagirl took me to see murals DeGrazia had painted decades before. The building the murals were in was soon to be demolished and the paintings were not going to be preserved. The building was open for a limited time only so folks could see the murals before they were gone forever. (Read about my experience viewing the murals here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/10/22/little-known-painting-by-ted-degrazia/.)

At the end of 2015, I spent a few days in Tucson after I got too cold in New Mexico. When I asked Nolagirl what I might want to do in Tucson, she told me there was a DeGrazia gallery in the city. The gallery is located at 6300 North Swan and is open every day (with the exceptions of New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 10am to 4pm. There is no admission charge.

According to the informational brochure I picked up at the gallery,

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is a 10-acre historic district in the foothills of Tucson’s Santa Catalina Mountains.

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The Mission in the Sun against the Arizona Sky.

IMG_4281I started my visit at the adjoining Mission in the Sun.

According to the brochure,

it was built in 1952 in honor of Father Kino and dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico.

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This door is the entrance to the Mission in the Sun.

 

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This message is painted on the back wall in the main part of the chapel.

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DeGrazia’s painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the Mission.

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Unlike in most Catholic churches I’ve visited, Jesus on the Cross is not at the front of the Mission in the Sun. Here, DeGrazia’s Lady of Guadalupe is front and center. Visitors have left tokens of their loved ones on the alter.

The chapel has an open-air ceiling. DeGrazia said

The roof is open to the sky, as it should be. You can’t close up God in a stuffy room!

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This photo of the Mission was taken while I was standing in front of the alter. It shows the entrance door at the back of the room and the open-air ceiling. Some of DeGrazia’s murals are also visible in this photo.

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When one looks up through the open-air ceiling, one sees this cross made from cholla cactus rising above the Mission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DeGrazia painted several murals in the Mission of the Sun.

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This mural by Ted DeGrazia is on one side of the door leading into the main part of the chapel.

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This mural by Ted DeGrazia is on the other side of the door leading into the main part of the chapel.

Angels

Jehovah's favorite choir?

Jehovah’s favorite choir?

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The brochure says

Next to the mission are the artist’s orginal home, his grave-site, and the Little Gallery that hosts visiting artists during the winter months.

I visited the Little Gallery and met the visiting artist Silvia Hogue, who works in watercolor, pen and acrylic.

Next I visited DeGrazia’s original home. IMG_4258

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Horseshoe art outside the house’s front entrance.

I was immediately struck by how small the house is. The front door opens into a main room. To the right is a smaller room (a bedroom?). To the right of that room is an even smaller, darker room. Straight ahead from the main room is another large-ish room divided by a counter into a cooking area (wood stove still in place) and what was probably a dining area. When I visited the house again later in the day, I realized there is no furniture in the house! That house must have seemed really small when there was furniture in it.

 

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Unfortunately, I did not realize DeGrazia’s grave was on-site, so I did not visit it. Next time I’m there I’ll know to look for it.

On the grounds is a large mosaic mural DeGrazia created.

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From a distance, the casual observer might think this is a painting, but up close, the small tiles are visible.

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Many desert plants grow on the grounds. I don’t even know the name of all the plants I saw there. IMG_4341

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IMG_4336According to the brochure,

In October 2006, the 10-acre foothills site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Tomorrow I will share my experiences in the actual art gallery.

To learn more about Gallery in the Sun, visit the website: http://degrazia.org/.

I took all the photos in this post.

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