Arizona’s most famous artists certainly must be Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. His art was once the artistic face of the United Nations Children’s Emergence Fund. Since each October brings UNICEF’s yearly celebration of the children of the world it becomes the perfect month to get out and visit DeGrazia’s Tucson studio, the Gallery of the Sun.
It was 1960 when Ted DeGrazia began his paintings of children for UNICEF. Soon his art became famous in countries around the world. His paintings of Los Niño’s, of angels and of native Southwest cultures for UNICEF were soon found on plates, jewelry, stained glass and canvas. Arizona’s Ted DeGrazia became one of the world’s most reproduced artists.
As DeGrazia’s fame and wealth grew a permanent place to display his life’s artistic works was needed. In 1952 he had already built an adobe chapel, the Mission of the Sun, to honor one of his life’s heroes, the great missionary priest of Spain, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino.
Father Kino had first come to this area in 1692 when he visited a Tohono O’odham village known even then as Bac. Years after Kino’s death, in 1775, Spanish commander, Hugo O’Connor, would select a site near Bac and establish the old adobe Presidio of Tucson.
In 1963, just north of downtown Tucson, Ted DeGrazia again started making his own adobe bricks to build an art gallery beside his Mission of the Sun. He would call his art center the Gallery of the Sun.
The main building of the Gallery of the Sun opened in 1965, the 254th anniversary of the death of Father Kino. It contains six permanent collections of his paintings of the children, of the cultures of Arizona and Mexico and of his most cherished work, the paintings of the life-story of Father Kino. Rotating exhibitions throughout the year display some of the other 15,000 original works of art created by Ted DeGrazia.
Arizona artist, Ted DeGrazia died on September 17, 1982 but his works of art remain an integral part of Arizona’s history.
|One of the many gallery rooms|
|The Chapel of the Virgin of Guudalupe|
|Grave of Ted De Grazia found at the Gallery of the Sun, Tucson.|