TED DEGRAZIA (BIO)
The son of Italian immigrants, Ettore DeGrazia was born in 1909 in the eastern Arizona mining camp of Morenci. As his father worked in the copper mine, young DeGrazia, nicknamed Ted by a schoolteacher, roamed the mountainous region collecting colorful minerals and copper ore. One of his first sculptures, "Head of Christ", was baked in his mother's oven.
DeGrazia moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona in 1933, where he supported himself planting trees by day and leading a big band at night. He eventually earned three degrees, including a Master of Arts with his thesis that explored the relationship of color and sound.
After his early paintings were first published in Arizona Highways magazine, DeGrazia traveled to Mexico City to work with mural masters Diego Rivera and Jose Clemente Orozco, who sponsored a solo exhibition of DeGrazia's artwork at the prestigious Palacio de Bellas Artes in 1942.
DeGrazia opened his first adobe studio in 1944 on the outskirts of Tucson at Prince Road and Campbell Avenue. The city quickly engulfed him, so he and his wife Marion bought the then-remote foothills site to build the Gallery in the Sun. His artwork gained enduring international acclaim when his painting Los Niños was chosen as a UNICEF greeting card that sold millions worldwide in 1960. As the value of his original artwork soared, his fame and finances flourished.
To protest inheritance taxes on works of art, DeGrazia hauled about 100 of his paintings on horseback to 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.