An Arizona Treasure” – these words were used by both Senator Barry Goldwater and Governor Bruce Babbitt to describe artist Ross Stefan. Babbitt went on to say: “Stefan’s impressionistic vision of the contemporary Southwest is vividly captured on canvas and is an accurate reflection of what makes Arizona beautiful and unique.”
Stefan was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his artistic abilities and business acumen first came together in 1941. Two of his sketches of a horse were used to illustrate an article netting him $20 with which he immediately bought defense bonds. As noted in the Journal “Ross Stefan may not be the greatest artist in the world for his age (age seven), but it’s safe to say that he is the greatest combination artist and businessman for his age.”
The same can be said of the four years —1955–1959— Stefan spent in Tubac, as an artist, town historian, buyer and seller of real estate for himself and others, including William C. Morrow… known as “The Father of Modern Tubac.” Among their many achievements for the area, Stefan and Morrow got the Arizona State Parks Association interested in making Tubac the first state park in Arizona. The efforts of these two men have had a beneficial historical and artistic effect that far outlasted their stay in Tubac. Stefan also became friends with another artist, Sid Cedargreen, and together they helped to create Tubac Center of the Arts and the first Tubac Festival of the Arts, held annually since 1959.
From 1959 until his death in 1999, Ross continued to bring “those days in Tubac” as well as countless trips to Kayenta on the Navajo reservation, into the many paintings he lovingly produced for thousands to enjoy… views of canyons, creeks, old barns, once-lush haciendas, lone cowboys riding the Sonoita and Santa Cruz Valleys, small villages of northern New Mexico or through Colorado aspen and snow, a little Hopi child, a rancher’s fence… relevant in 1959, in 1999, in 2009 as they will be in 2059.
Image: Ross Stefan, “Greywhisker’s Granddaughter” Gift of Betsy Campbell Perry.
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