History and Legend : The Tale Behind the Photo

Tucson, AZ

Located in north Tucson, AZ, amidst all of the aesthetically questionable trappings of your average big city neighborhood, a truly magical little adobe compound was carved out by the artist, Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia in the 1950s.

Dubbed "Ted" by a grade school teacher who couldn't pronounce his given name, it is apparent Mr. DeGrazia made note of such slights at an early age and as a result, never forgot where he came from as one of his final wishes before his death in 1982, was to leave behind a gallery only to be occupied by emerging artists.

Once a month during the Winter and Spring months, one artist occupies the gallery for the duration and the thought of holding an exhibition in there was one of my top goals in the first year of showing my photos. But there was an interview process so goals and dreams in this case are just like opinions, everyone has them and they are rarely shared...needless to say, I was more than a little nervous as to how the curators of the museum would respond or even if they were up to the quality of what they were looking for...I mean, this was DeGrazia!

As I arrived for my interview, I did so in my usual classy (disorganized) fashion, no, no beautiful (expensive) portfolios with prints of my work, no custom built crates to house framed pieces, just stuff I hadn't sold at my last show carried in bright blue Walmart laundry bags... did I mention classy?

As I was escorted to the interview area, I was introduced to two women across a table who obviously had no trouble confusing disorganization with class as they carried themselves with the utmost...we shook hands and had some short pleasantries about what I did and why, when I began to pull one of the pieces from the bag.

One of the women, who had known DeGrazia the longest and best, laughed slightly which added to my nervousness but that abated some when I showed them an image of a Navajo warrior. They seemed to like that one, so I decided to show only the Native images going forward.

After another half an hour had passed and with a good deal more selling of myself, I was offered a spot in the gallery starting in February and a tour of DeGrazia's home, both of which I eagerly accepted.

It was in his home that I found this image of the crosses in a prayer room and learned that the thing that most impressed my two interviewers about my work was the bags in which I carried them! For the woman who (I am embarrassed to say I can't recall her name) knew DeGrazia best, told me that as soon as I entered the room carrying all of my art in bags, 'We knew we would like it, that's just the way DeGrazia used to carry his art around.'

In closing and unfortunately, I had to cancel my invitation, for as February came around, I had just put my house up for sale and could not be away for the month.