Sunday, February 8, 2009

DeGrazia's Refuge in the Foothills



The weather was so beautiful this morning that we thought we'd hop into the car, take some photos, and come home and paint. Little did we know that nearly everywhere we would go, there would be some reason to keep moving.

We headed for Sabino Canyon. We knew that we couldn't take our dogs on any trails, but figured that we could park nearby and walk along the road or just outside the park. Not so. There were 'no parking' signs everywhere, 'no outlet' signs when we turned to the west and a fee station to park--except dogs not allowed out in the desert. I remembered a comedian from years ago remarking that everything you might want to do in California cost. In fact, he said that at the state line, he thought there would soon be signs stating, "Do not back up, tire damage." Yes, I was feeling like Arizona had become a place where only the wealthy could afford to live and walk in the most spectacular wilderness. We considered driving up to Mt. Lemmon, but we were told the road had closed because (you snow people will love this) snow had begun to fall, i. e., a few snowflakes were observed near the top of the mountain.

We drove west to DeGrazia's Studio. I took some photos while Mr. Artyfice sat in the car with the dogs.

I don't know how many of you have heard of Ted DeGrazia, but he had a pretty bad reputation among serious artists in this town because of his kitschy Native American children with the gigantic eyes. Yet, I remember reading an article about his early days here in Tucson and saw some photos of his work. He was a good artist. He found a way to make a living from his art, but it was never easy.

He built an adobe home, studio and chapel that became a gathering place for his artist friends. He was a generous person.

While it is disturbing to see the two story apartment building a few feet from his few acres, we found it to be a welcoming place today. No charge for parking. The views--stunning. If he and his family hadn't fought so hard to preserve the acreage that they owned, there would be a multi-million dollar home or three on the site and I would be persona non gratis today.

Here's a quick study of the chapel he built with his own hands. It is 5 1/2" x 8" on watercolor paper. We left feeling a bit better and, so I offer the beautiful rendition of One Love, Playing for Change.

17 comments:

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

Steven and I have had the same experience here. In fact our local park -- which was a thing of beauty has been destroyed by some fence installing maniacs who have set up big post-style ranch fences delineating a "dog area, plus a black plastic fenced in area marking off a winter "dog" area. So much for I will lift up mine eyes. The rolling lovely green space gone. Wire fences along the woods. Dogs are not welcome anywhere, which seems super strange to people with dogs. The dogs make the world safer for people without them! Plus the high price of parking to see the beauty that exists is nuts. I'm glad you found a place to be. The painting is lovely and gives a strong sense of place -- accepting space.

Great blog as always.
xoxoxoxBarbara

Edgar said...

It was an irritating day. Now... turn it around. Use your new photos and the positive stimulation you got from the day, to go and make your world better with some more of that great art you do. You've got a calling, and the world is waiting for your good medicine.

Melinda said...

Hi Barbara,
Oh, I'm so sorry that you've had to experience the same kind of frustration! What is going on?

Do you remember the old song, "Pave paradise, Put up a parking lot"?

Well, we'll just have to keep going and hope that we can save some space for the rest of us, yes?

Melinda said...

Thank you, Edgar. Harrumph. Okay. You, too, eh.

Marian Fortunati said...

Seems like you had a great day... some days it's good just to drive around and soak in all the beautiful places around us... (even if you can't get out of the car without paying... ;o) )

Melinda said...

Hi Marian,
Yes, driving can be a fun way to get around to several spots. I like to think of it as a bit like photo journalism in those moments. It turned out to be alright.

Anonymous said...

"...a few snowflakes were observed?" ha! haha! That's rich.
Your pastel painting is lovely. The warm green cacti against the warm red adobe is a nice complement of colors.

I got a charge out of listening to the video. Loved Kenkosenki's (Congo) voice. And how about the drum set on the balcony. Wow. Thanks!

Linny D. Vine said...

Hi Melinda,

Thank-you for the road trip and Bob's tune, (and for visiting me in Fernwwood). Your study is full of warmth - just like you! It's a joy to visit your blog!

Melinda said...

Hi Silvina,
I was a bit hesitant to embed the youtube video, but now I'm glad! It's a fun, moving and lively group with a very strong message, yeah!

Oh, we desert dwellers are a crazy bunch. We find it difficult to drive any time the roads aren't completely dry. And, the highway patrol seems to get a real kick out of closing the road up to Mt. Lemmon. Makes me feel sorry for the business owners who are trying to sell a little pie and hot chocolate.

Thank you for your kind comment. The study is bugging me 'cuz it's too representational. I'm feeling a change coming on...

Melinda said...

Thank you so much, Linny, for stopping by. I'm honored. Your work is full of joy, light and beauty! I look forward to seeing more of your lovely paintings.

Nicolai said...

Hi, Melinda,

I read your November 19, 2008, entry in which you mention my cousin, Alexis Badmaev (Badmieff), the RCA engineer who died in 1966 in CA. I never met him. I'd be grateful if you could tell me more about him and his family. Thanks. Nicolai

Melinda said...

Hello Nicolai,
I would love to chat with you about Alexis. Would you like to email me at the addy that I have on my blog page? We can converse there more easily.
It's artoday@excite.com

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

In Toronto we sing (Steven and I)"Paved paradise and out up a French chateau" the current favorite architectural style of the nouveau riche. If you've actually seen the French ones they do seem comical. But
hey -- they're cute, unless they build 4,000 on and old plot of once beautiful and rich farmland.

Great blog.

xoxoxoxBarbara

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

That should read "paved paradise and put up a French chateau." And it should read "an old plot of farmland." Sorry!
Brain going too fast for my hands.

xoxoxoBarbara

Melinda said...

Hi Barbara!
Yes, I understood you exactly. I'm sorry that this is happening everywhere. I like to think that it isn't quite the same in Canada.

At least you can sing about it!

Barbara Muir said...

Hi Melinda,

When I wrote you before I hadn't watched the video. How moving. I do love how you think! I'm playing this one for my students.

xoxoxoBarbara

Melinda said...

Thank you, Barbara, but I think you really, really don't want to be in my head....! :)