I was poking around my archives looking for an account of some previous travel (which I will get to in a moment), when the timing of that trip struck me for a couple of reasons…
Gosh, it was ten years ago. Just about this time of year.
And while we were on the trip, John Paul II was dying…and then he died.
That was ten years ago tomorrow (April 2)…is anyone remembering this?
So weird, considering the impact of that moment and the subsequent consistory electing Cardinal Ratzinger. Those weeks were quite memorable, for they were weeks in which the Catholic understanding of life and death, embodied in the lives of human beings and the ritual of the Church, was there for everyone to see, and it was all rather stirring, beautiful and hopeful.
What I was looking for was anything I’d written about our visit, on that Arizona trip, to something called the Gallery of the Sun - the studio of late artist Ted De Grazia. You probably don’t know his name, but if you have memories of popular art of the 1960’s, this might strike a chord:
No, not as well-known as the Keane’s Big Eyes, but still, part of the fabric of the era.
We didn’t have it as a destination – I think it was on the way to somewhere else. But we stopped in, and I was surprised by the heavy religious content of the art. De Grazia claimed he was not a traditionally religious man, but the Gallery is dedicated to the great missionary of the Southwest, Fr. Kino,
DeGrazia was inspired by the memorable events in the life and times of Padre Kino, the heroic, historic and immortal priest-colonizer of the Southwestern desert. Since childhood, DeGrazia admired Padre Kino for his education, life of adventure and his respect for Native Americans. DeGrazia traveled to every Kino mission as he lovingly studied the life of his favorite Jesuit priest. The Mission in the Sun is dedicated to his memory.
What struck me with the most force during the visit was De Grazia’s Stations of the Cross. They were painted, according to this article, for the Catholic Student Center at the University of Arizona in Tuscon (my mother’s alma mater…but painted several years after her attendance). I purchased a little bound set of postcards at the time, and still use it.
Yes, it’s pop art of a sort, but some of the stations are, I think, rather powerful. This image is from the Gallery’s Pinterest board, which has representations of all the images, some notes on the inspiration and preliminary sketches:
I think this is my favorite:
Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us'; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
That said…ten years?