My family discovered the gallery shortly after we moved from Southern California to the area in 1994. For several months, we rented a house within walking distance of DeGrazia's place.
Ted DeGrazia (6/14/09 - 7/1/82) was an American impressionistic artist. He had a unique style and worked in many different media including oil paints, watercolors, lithographs, ceramics, and metals. He also designed his own gallery.
Construction of the gallery began with the open air Mission in the Sun in 1951. The Gallery in the Sun was completed in 1965.
The inside of the gallery has a comfortable earthy feel to it. DeGrazia used natural materials from the surrounding desert for the adobe walls, cholla cactus floor tiles, rock floors, and saguaro cactus rib doors and trim.
The entrance to the gallery is through heavy iron mine-shaft doors, decorated with saguaro cacti and suns, embedded with colored glass marbles.
DeGrazia said, "I wanted to build the museum so that my paintings would feel good inside it. "
Cholla cactus floor tiles, straw and adobe walls, adobe bricks, prickly pear cactus skeletonsrevealing the playful spirit of the artist. Those are shovels sticking up out of the ground behind the aloes.
The back courtyard is whimsically decorated with all sorts of cacti and surprises at every turn. Musical instruments, cookware, tools, and quirky pottery are among the treasures adorning the garden.
The entire property, inside and out, is embellished with cactus in many forms. Cacti and succulents are everywhere one looks.
Here, outside the gallery entrance, is a dried cholla cactus candelabrum. To the right, some of the two dozen potted purple prickly pears.
DeGrazia was a prolific artist. The gallery rotates his collection of over 15,000 pieces of artwork. Admission is free and the gift shop still sells notecards for only $1.
On this visit there was a surprise outside the gallery, on the ground next to the base of this saguaro cactus...something I don't see everyday. It doesn't show up in this picture because it's well camouflaged. Click here to see what we found.
To see more Cactus Monday posts, visit Teri's Painted Daisies.