DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Historic District
Entrance to Gallery of the Sun
Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia
DeGrazia’s Mission in the Sun, built 1952
Our Lady of Guadalupe altar
Rotating Exhibitions in the Lower Gallery
DeGrazia’s Sketch of the Gallery in the Sun
Backstory and Context
What started as a small construction project for a new gallery space developed into a 10-acre artistic refuge. Proof of DeGrazia’s artistic vision is scattered around the desert; from the arches with flowers made of recycled cans, to the Yaqui Deer Dancer sculpture in the courtyard.
Construction began in 1951 with the open air Mission in the Sun followed by a series of other expressionistic adobe buildings. Construction was aided by his Yaqui and Tohono O'odham friends. The gallery/museum was completed in 1965 with details like cactus flooring, exposed wood beams, rafters and unique artistic finishes. This main gallery houses thirteen separate galleries of original artwork.
The only way for DeGrazia to avoid a huge amount of government taxation was for him to turn his Gallery In the Sun into a non-profit foundation. In this way he was able to keep his collection and his fortune intact. DeGrazia died of cancer on September 17, 1982 at the age of 73. His beloved Gallery In the Sun was listed on the National Historic Registry as a Historic District in 2006.(1)