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Co-authors Jim and Marilyn Johnson talk about the making of their book, the first ever comprehensive biography of artist and Tucson legend Ted De Grazia. Filmed on location at the De Grazia Gallery in the Sun in Tucson, Arizona.
Artist Ted De Grazia (1909–1982) lived life with passion and verve, embracing risk and romance, becoming a legend in Arizona and gaining international acclaim. De Grazia: The Man and the Myths is a biography that reveals the eccentric, colorful man behind the myths. This highly entertaining book by James W. Johnson with Marilyn D. Johnson looks at De Grazia’s life from his early years until his death.
Born in Arizona Territory to Italian immigrant parents, De Grazia, who was also known as Ted DeGrazia, had a humble childhood as a copper miner’s son influenced his famous persona later. De Grazia often held forth at his gallery in Tucson’s Catalina foothills dressed in a pseudo prospector’s getup of scraggly beard, jeans, flannel shirt, boots, and beat-up cowboy hat. Outrageous stories of womanizing, scores of children, and drinking binges created an eclectic image that fueled stories of mythic proportions, along with global sales of his colorful paintings inspired by the Southwest and Mexico. He made millions through his paintings and the licensing of his art for greeting cards and trinkets. Critics called his work kitsch or commercial, yet thousands of admirers continue to love it.
Calling De Grazia a complicated man doesn’t begin to explain him. He once described himself as “not saint nor devil, but both.” The first book of its kind, De Grazia: The Man and the Myths tells the story of a life remarkably lived.