I took this photo of a little-known painting by Ted DeGrazia in a building in Phoenix that was soon to be demolished.
Don’t know who Ted DeGrazia is? I didn’t either until Nolagirl took me to the building (which was open to the public for the weekend) to see this work and another long piece that covered an entire side wall. (I didn’t think I could get a good shot of that piece, so I didn’t even try. I couldn’t get the entirety of the piece in one shot, and the lighting was poor.)
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ettore_DeGrazia,
Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia (June 14, 1909 – September 17, 1982) was an American impressionist, painter, sculptor, composer, actor, director, designer, architect, jeweler, and lithographer. Described as “the world’s most reproduced artist”, DeGrazia is known for his colorful images of Native American children of the American Southwest and other Western scenes. DeGrazia also painted several series of exhibitions like the Papago Legends, Padre Kino, Cabeza de Vaca.
According to http://degrazia.org/about-degrazia/bio/,
The son of Italian immigrants, Ettore DeGrazia was born June 14, 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.
DeGrazia’s paintings, ceramics and other artwork steadily attracted media attention including the NBC newsreel “Watch the World” and a profile in the 1953 National Geographic article “From Tucson to Tombstone.”
From 1960 to the mid-1970s DeGrazia became wildly successful and the gallery flourished with hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors. To protest inheritance taxes on works of art, DeGrazia hauled about 100 of his paintings on horseback into the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix and set them ablaze in 1976. This infamous event was reported in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and People magazine, becoming part of DeGrazia’s legend before his death in 1982. By this time, the artist had established the DeGrazia Foundation to ensure the permanent preservation of his art and architecture for future generations.
As for the murals in the now demolished building?
DeGrazia painted the murals, the larger of which depicts the history of alcohol, more than a half-century ago.
DeGrazia painted the 47-foot mural of cancan girls, alcohol distillation and flying women with chalices 65 years ago to pay off — legend has it — a bar tab at a Phoenix lounge. Experts estimated it would cost at least $250,000 to save. Although there was a public outcry, no one stepped forward with funding or a concrete plan to preserve and re-install the mural elsewhere.
The Observer reported in January 2015,
The larger mural has been protected by a wall since the building became a working studio. The smaller one is painted on drywall that apparently could be moved to a new location, but the big mural is drywall-on-brick and probably can’t be moved. (http://www.observerweekly.com/content/historic-phoenix-bar%E2%80%99s-ted-degrazia-murals-facing-bulldozer)
I was glad to have the opportunity to see these murals before they were demolished along with the building to make room for more housing for rich people in Phoenix. I guess that’s progress.