WHAT: The Play is a one-act character study of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who was central to the development of Southwestern Architecture.

WHERE: Tucson Desert Art Museum, 7000 East. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, AZ 85715

WHEN: Saturday, February 12, 2022, at 7 PM and Sunday, February 13, 2022, at 2 PM

Cost: Tickets - General Admission: $25 Tickets; Members, please call the Museum for discounted tickets. (520) 202-3888.


TUCSON, ARIZONA (January 21, 2022) “A Woman by Design,” a play about the life and times of architect and designer, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter will debut in Tucson at the Museum on Saturday, February 12, 2022 at 7:00 PM. There will be only one encore performance on Sunday, February 13, 2022 at 2:00 PM. This 50-minute one-woman play is based on the life and times of Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, chief architect and designer of many landmark buildings and public spaces for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, notably in the Grand Canyon National Park.


Her work had enormous influence as she helped to create a style, working in rugged conditions, blending Spanish and Mission Revival architecture with Native American designs, now viewed as pivotal in the development of Southwestern architecture.


Featured in the title role is Elizabeth Ware, a professional actress well known for her solo performances and her husband, David Edgecombe, who produced the play. They bring a unique perspective to this timeless story of a woman struggling to establish herself in the male-dominated world of early twentieth century architecture. Ware portrays Colter at three life stages: an uncertain young art student, a self-taught architect, and as an 88-year-old woman facing the sale or destruction of some of her major projects. “A Woman by Design” is a fascinating character study of a strongwilled woman who was inspired by an artistic passion that drove her ‘not to overpower nature,’ but to become a kind of interpreter.” Review of Navajo-Hopi Observer, originally published April 5, 2017 at its debut at La Posada Hotel.


Guests attending are required to provide proof of vaccination with picture ID at door and wear masks.


About the Tucson Desert Art Museum: The Tucson Desert Art Museum, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, opened its doors on November 1, 2013, with a mission to display art and artifacts of the Desert Southwest and its surrounding regions, and educate our guests about the history, cultures, and art of the region. At the core of the Museum is one of the Southwest’s premier collections of Navajo and Hopi pre-1940s textiles as well as a diverse range of historical artifacts, classic and contemporary Southwestern paintings. The Museum continues to actively pursue special exhibitions on social issues in our history. Our current exhibit, “All the Single Ladies: Women Pioneers of the American West,” tells select stories from the trailblazing lives of unmarried women in the 19th century, who were homesteaders, Harvey girls, boarding house owners, teachers, madams, prostitutes, and entertainers. Take time to learn how these women brought a richness and vivacity to the fabric of life in the emerging American West.