The DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, a long-standing artistic gem nestled at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, recently unveiled its newest exhibition, “DeGrazia After Dark.” The collection contains more than 50 paintings by Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, who created, lived in and died in his beloved gallery.
As the name implies, the exhibition will feature a series of nocturnal paintings crafted in some of the various styles the famed artist was known for; most noticeably his masterful use of the palette knife. More than just a painter, DeGrazia was an artistic soul who spent much of his life utilizing many different mediums.
While many in Tucson are somewhat familiar with DeGrazia and his work, one aspect of his life which the general gallery-goer may not know is that he was somewhat of a night owl.
“DeGrazia was an interesting guy,” said Lance P. Laber, executive director of the DeGrazia Foundation. “He didn’t sleep a lot. He would work all day and at four o’clock throw everybody out. And then he would go home and go to bed — or have a drink and go to bed — and then wake up around 11 o’clock and start doing his thing: wandering around and painting at night.”
DeGrazia also never painted with a model. He instead drew from his memory to craft his art. Because he spent so much of his time wandering through the midnight hours, much of his artwork reflects his dark environment.
Over 50 different pieces are set to be featured in the exhibit, though Laber did admit that the DeGrazia collection contains many more paintings which could have been included. The gallery contains nearly 15,000 pieces of DeGrazia’s work, and many contain some sort of nocturnal feel.
Though all of the paintings are at night, Laber said the collection won’t be following any sort of pattern. Some of the paintings have never previously been shown to the public, though some may be familiar sites to DeGrazia frequenters
While DeGrazia was alive, he had a tendency to leave up a lot of permanent exhibits, and many people who frequented the gallery went to see certain pieces of art. Laber said the gallery has looked to change how things are done in the years since DeGrazia’s death.
Many of the collections DeGrazia installed as permanent pieces like “The Way of the Cross” or the “Father Kino” collections are now often utilized in rotation by the gallery. Laber said he and his staff now like to bring certain paintings out of the vault from time to time for the public to see for the first time.
“With the variety and the paintings that DeGrazia did,” said Laber, “we’ve got to make people understand that it wasn’t just little kids.”
The “DeGrazia After Dark” exhibit opened Jan. 29 and will be held at the Gallery in the Sun until Aug. 24. The gallery is located at 6300 N. Swan Road, on the west side of North Swan Road, just south of East Skyline Drive. The gallery and gift shop are free and open to the public every day of the week from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.