Behind the Easel

Written by Mackenzie McCreary Category: Arts Issue: June 2014
Group Free


READ IT: Arizona-born artist Ted DeGrazia’s paintings pulse with bold brush strokes and bright blocks of vibrant color. His faceless figures of Native American children and rough-textured landscapes immerse viewers in the Southwest and its culture. But the man behind these paintings remained a mystery to many well past 1982, when he died of cancer. In DeGrazia: The Man and the Myths ($29.95, University of Arizona Press), authors James W. Johnson and Marilyn D. Johnson attempt to construct a comprehensive picture of DeGrazia from mere puzzle pieces – stories in newspapers, magazines, books, a handful of personal papers, and a dozen interviews with peripheral people from DeGrazia’s past. The result is an entertaining profile of a mischievous man who built a wall of privacy around himself while struggling for approval and widespread recognition of his work.