Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Ted DeGrazia (1909-1982)
Born in Morenci, Arizona, he was the son of an immigrant father who was a copper miner for Phelps Dodge Company, at the age of eleven, returned to Italy with his family for the next five years. When he returned to Morenci, he had forgotten most of his English and entered first grade at age 16. One of his teachers decided to Anglicize his name from Ettore to "Ted" because it was easier to spell. He did not graduate from high school until age 23. During this time, the Depression, he had developed interest and skill as a musician and earned money playing trumpet in local bands at houses of "ill repute." He attended the University of Arizona to learn to paint, but dropping out, went to Mexico City to study fresco techniques with social real muralists Diego Rivera and Jose Orozco, who in turn were so admiring of his painting that they sponsored an exhibition of De Grazia's work. He also traveled extensively throughout Arizona, experimenting with ceramics and depicting on paper and canvas local people. In 1941, a special exhibit was held of work completed during these travels. He returned to Tucson from Mexico in 1943 and built an adobe studio and in 1945 earned his Master's Degree in music and art. His illustrations for greeting cards brought him early attention among Arizonans, but he was hurt that the University Art Department showed little interest in his accomplishments. This rejection caused him to go it alone, so he built his own gallery in Tucson from adobe and decorated it with Indian and Mexican motifs. He had wide distribution of his work in many forms--prints, serigraphs, decals, collector plates, needlepoint, cards, books and even key chains. He also wrote several books on painting.
View high resolution images of works by Ted DeGrazia when available.