Saturday, March 23, 2019

Ted DeGrazia...Gallery in the Sun

Tucson Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
March 15, 2019

Born of Italian immigrants, Ettore DeGrazia (1909-1982) grew up in a mining camp in 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 traditions.

In the early 1950s DeGrazia purchased a 10-acre plot in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. 

One of the first buildings DeGrazia designed and built on this property he named Mission in the Sun.  
Adobe bricks were made on site with water DeGrazia hauled up in his Model A.

DeGrazia was inspired by the life and times of Padre Kino (who arrived to Arizona in1687 and traveled on horseback to map out the region).  

Padre Kino (who brought a simple cross to introduce Christianity without destroying the native cultures),  built 24 missions in 24 years with the help of Native Americans.  DeGrazia traveled to every Kino mission as he studied the life of the Padre.  

Designed with rock floors, interior murals, and open air roof, the Mission in the Sun was dedicated to Padre Kino. DeGrazia was quoted to have said "... you can't close up God in a stuffy room".

The Mission in the Sun is not open to the public now as it is undergoing some renovations.

What turned out to be a small construction project in the early 1950s developed into a 10-acre National Historic District.  This is actually the second gallery on the property.  As his fame, finances and collections grew, a bigger gallery was needed.        

"The gallery was designed by me.  I wanted to have the feeling of the Southwest.  I wanted to build it so that my paintings would feel good inside." Ettore "Ted" Degrazia  

The iron gates are a replica of the Yuma Territorial Prison gate.  

The entrance resembles a mine shaft reminding him of his youth.   

A small gift shop is the first stop.  There you pay an $8 fee per person and receive a map and brochure.  The rest of the gallery is a self guided tour.  

DeGrazia's studio

There are six permanent collections of paintings in the gallery and rotating collections.  Rotating exhibitions showcase treasures form the vault.  "The Way of the Cross" exhibit is an annual showing every year at Easter through May and "Desert Blooms" is on exhibit now through August. Including the rotating exhibit only some of DeGrazia's 15,000 originals are housed in the gallery including oils, watercolors, sketches, lithographs, sculptures, and ceramics. 
One of my favorite paintings from the Padre Kino permanent collection...Kino's Indian Wedding
A permanent collection of 40 paintings done in 1967 that depict the Yaqui Easter...their biggest celebration of the year.

A permanent collection created in 1975 depicting Papago (the name officially changed to Tohono O'odham in the 1980s) Indian legends.  One of the legends (there were 4) is Ho'ok.  Ho'ok was a wicked witch with talons of an eagle and a large appetite for children. 
A few pictures from the rotating collection "The Way of the Cross"
Watercolors from the 1950s..."colorful" and "playful" paintings of cactus flowers and desert critters...part of the rotating collection.

There is a great video of DeGrazia...not to be missed.  It shows him attending festivals, talking with children, going to bullfights, painting, building the mission and gallery, and he explains his vision.    

There is a small courtyard just outside the gift shop.

DeGrazia was an accomplished trumpeter.  In 1945 he completed a Masters of Arts in Music.  His thesis "Art and Its Relation to Music" explored the connection between music and visuals.  His music plays in the gift shop.  

The Deer important part of the Yaqui Easter ceremony  inspired DeGrazia to create the seven-foot statue of the Deer Dancer in the gallery's courtyard.

Well, I could go on and was such a beautiful place to visit.  Even though Joe and I took our time and read about and enjoyed and discussed the paintings, we both agreed we probably missed a lot...there is so much to take in...and a return visit someday would be just as enjoyable.

I'll close for now with just a few more favorite pictures.  Until next time, enjoy and...

Little Indian with Olla lithograph...hand printed in 1980.  Also, notice how DeGrazia used hay in the wall mud for texture.

The bell on top of Mission in the Sun

Love the colors and textures in the photo.  The walk is made with cholla cacti cut in discs...amazing!

Joe's favorite from the Padre Kino collection.


"It's not how much paint from the tube I put on the canvas, or even how much paint I leave out. I work for the feeling of a piece." DeGrazia

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Catalina State Park

Lazydays KOA
Tucson, AZ
February 27, 2019

After a complicated series of land trades, leases, and purchase of land which took over 10 years, Catalina State Park was dedicated and opened to the public in May, 1983. 

Today, this awesome park...5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams... is a haven for desert plants and wildlife.

We have enjoyed Catalina SP many times, but this was a special day.  We had birding plans with Sue and Dave who were camping there.  We met at their campsite,  loved on Lewis a few minutes and then headed out to the Trailhead parking lot to walk the Birding Trail.
Following Dave and Sue to the Trailhead parking lot...

We all knew in advance the streams had water which means if you want to do the trail, you must cross the wash.  Crossing with this much water was a first for us.  Sue was prepared and handed out trash bags to cover our feet and legs.

Dave and Joe went first...

As prepared as we were, the water was mid-calf deep in spots and flowing fast.  Everyone had wet shoes and socks when we reached the other side of the wash so we ditched the bag idea.  We wrung the water out of the bags and Dave packed them away in his backpack and we were on our way.     

The Birding Trail is an easy loop that begins in a mesquite bosque.  Bosque is a Spanish word for woodland and is used in the Desert Southwest to describe an often closed-canopy of mesquite trees that develops near streams.  

Dave and Sue
From here, it's a small climb up as the trail winds along a ridge.  Time flew by enjoying the company, the birds, and the views. 

All together, we had four stream crossings. Sue and Dave were the smart ones...they removed their shoes and socks, held hands and walked carefully.  

Joe and I on the other hand crossed the not so smart way...wearing our shoes and socks !

Yucky, squishy, squeaky and cold, wrinkled toes...

We heard and saw several birds, but two sightings were especially sweet as I was able to capture a few photos.  Sue and Dave spotted a female Ladder-backed Woodpecker. 

A pretty cool action shot!

Back at the parking lot while we were loading up backpacks, we all spotted a Vermillion Flycatcher about the same was the red glow in the sun that got our attention.
We watched him for a few minutes then he flew over to a post. 

Back at Sue and Daves we enjoyed more conversation, lots of  laughs, kisses from Lew, happy hour, pizza with the yummiest roasted asparagus (Thank you Sue!) and a variety of sweets...the lemon bar was my favorite !  

We didn't even notice the time until it was half past dark o'thirty.  We bid our good-byes to get home to our pups with hopes to see Sue and Dave in a few weeks in Moab.

In real time, we have new curtains in the cab.  

The old curtains were a shiny, satiny looking fabric...not at all our (well, maybe my) taste.  The new fabric is a nice linen blend.  

Luckily we found Chavez Since 67 located on Campbell Ave...a family owned business for over 50 years.  Eddie (son of the business founder) was great to work with.  The quality of workmanship and attention to detail in making these curtains was OUTSTANDING !
They specialize in anything fabric from custom drapes, bedspreads, etc. and complete upholstery services including indoor and outdoor furniture.   

I'll close for until next time, take care and
Jack is patiently waiting for his carrot treat. He has learned he will be given one as soon as I break out the peeler. 
Sally always brings us the purple dinosaur when we get home.
Dover doesn't really want to share...
Happy Trails !