Monday, April 20, 2009

Cactus Monday - DeGrazia

I recently visited a place that would delight any art, cactus or nature lover. DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, north of Tucson, Arizona, on Swan Road near Skyline Drive.

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 entrance to the gallery is through heavy iron mine-shaft doors, decorated with saguaro cacti and suns, embedded with colored glass marbles.
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.
DeGrazia said, "I wanted to build the museum so that my paintings would feel good inside it. "
Saguaro Dancers
The gallery has many rooms, each with a different theme. One can easily sense how nature and native people inspired and influenced him. He said, "As I paint I feel a magic goes into some paintings. I don't talk about it, because people may not understand. But I really feel the magic."
Some of the natural building materials:
Cholla cactus floor tiles, straw and adobe walls, adobe bricks, prickly pear cactus skeletons
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.
Pathways meander through cactus,
around the fountain, over little bridges,
revealing the playful spirit of the artist. Those are shovels sticking up out of the ground behind the aloes.
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.


yoon see said...

Thanks for sharing this "WOW" stories Diane C.
A special sancyuary just dedicated for growing cactuses, art gallery...all parts of the gallery look super amazingly beautiful. Love the colour and textures for the wall tiles and floor finishes too:)
I too feel the magic here. Loving it!
HCM Diane:)

IcyCucky said...

I love to learn the information on DeGrazia, and the photos are just WOW!

deedee said...

I enlarged the photo to see what the surprise was.... but could not find it. It must be really small. Thanks for taking us - I've never been there.

Lynn said...

Wow, that is a lot of beauty to behold all at once, thank you for sharing it. HCM

deepazartz said...

MY GOD! This is just AMAZING!!!
Who'll ever think that there's something like this out there...or anywhere for that matter! Thanks to the fantasy of Mr.Ted DeGrazia that we are able to see this! The earthy feel is just so unique & pleasing. It's like a heritage site.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful place with us. You live in such a beautiful place.

Happy Cactus Monday!

Teri C said...

My absolute favorite place in Tucson!!! I always have to visit at least once when we are here. Gorgeous photos and commentary!!


Kevin said...

Wow, beautiful photographs. It looks like the type of place I could get lost in for hours.

My list of places to visit next winter is getting longer and longer. I may have to come south for a few months next year.

Thanks for sharing.

Outside In said...

Thanks for commenting on my Cactus Monday Post,
I have visited Sabino Canyon a few times, I have friends that lives up there. I love visiting Tucson, next year I plan to visit the Biosphere.

Pouty Lips said...

This would be a great trip for me being that I live in Phoenix. The gallery looks spectacular and the cacti might still be somewhat in bloom if I hurry. HCM!

studio lolo said...

What a wonderful Cactus Monday tour!! I love the Purple Prickly Pears the best.

I think that may be an armadillo behind the bush. I guess we'll have to wait!


Julie said...

In all the years we've been in Arizona, I've yet to visit DeGrazia's studio. Now I really want to. Thanks, Diane! :)

Margaret Ann said...

What a small World! Teri C. suggested I go here last week on my trip to Tucson...sadly other adventures took up so much of our time...what a cactus Monday treat for me to see the gallery here today...A fabulous places loaded with treasure!!!!! I cannot believe we were so close to it yet so very far away! Guess its always good to leave something special for the next trip! LOL :)

P.S. I did make it to Sabino canyon...and totally understand you love for it! Tucson really rocks!

Julie said... really hit the motherlode of cactus delights here!!! Maybe one day I will be able to see it...I pray I will. Fantastic post and photos and information!!!
Happy CM!!!

Kathiesbirds said...

I have yet to visit this amazing place, though I have heard so much about it. Wonderful tour you gave us. This would be a great MY World post also!

Gaelyn said...

Diane, I love this place. What an amazing example of desert eccentricity. Your tour is superb, but I must put this on my winter list and see it for myself. Excellent.

Leedra said...

Enjoyed the stroll with you. Nice collage.

Leedra’s Photos For FunLeedra’s Greeting CardsPhotography By Leedra

Flying Colors said...

What a fabulous post... And this Gallery is amazing...
Will need to visit this place when I go there! In the meantime you brought it to me! Thank You so much...
So wonderful and can't wait to see what the surprise is :-)
Have a great HCM! to YOU!

LisaNewton said...

Oh, I like the garden the best. Plus, I'm in love with Southwestern designed homes. I don't know what it is, the color, the shapes, or just the natural look, but the adobe style is definitely a favorite.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this place is great. The plants are great. The property is great. The art is fantastic, and the home is one of a kind.

Phoenix C. said...

Diane, what an wonderful place and what an amazing person Ted DeGrazia must have been! Thank you for such a comprehensive tour. I love the details such asa the cactus floor tiles and all the eccentric and marvellous ornamentation around the grounds.

I'm going to look up more about this artist tonight, when I have a little time! And add it to my Places I Must Visit list!!

(Have you ever been to Lanzarote in the Canaries? The artist Cesar Manrique designed several marvellous places, including the Jameos del Agua, built in an underground volcanic lava bubble).

Your post has really inspired me!!! Thank you.

Glynis said...

Wow thanks for the tour, fantastic!

marianne said...

What a delightful visit this must have been!
Thanks for taking me along and for letting me enjoy all these wonders!

KaysWay said...

The building itself it beautiful.


Martha said...

You find so many wonderful places to take us. I never knew there was so much to see in Tucson.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Diane, Beautiful Gallery!!! Thanks for sharing. Wish we had have been in Arizona this past week rather than RAINY Texas. HA

Hope you had a great week/weekend.

We are glad to be home.. It was a wonderful trip --just getting to see my son and family. BUT--the weather was horrible. Oh Well!!!!

I'm going to check through some of your older blog posts.

Dee said...

Catching up with your blog- I love this post! I was at the gallery quite a few years ago- you make me want to visit again soon!