Busted spark plugs, rusted shrapnel and bullet-ridden propane tanks may not sound like muses to many people, but to artist Jason Hugger, such discarded objects inspire surrealistic desert landscape paintings.

In “Desolate Wind” (acrylic on canvas), what appears to have once been part of a small circuit board now looks like a large structure in a stark, flat patch of land, its diminutive diodes reborn into windows, its small switching transistors turned into eye-catching embellishments.

“The Sunbird” is an oil-on-canvas depiction of an old, bent saw blade rendered huge and looming over some smaller, unidentifiable metal bits in an undulating wave of maize-colored desert. There’s a large hole near what would have been the hilt of the saw blade, emulating an eye, which helps to give the object the appearance of a bird skull.

In these paintings, as in most of Hugger’s works, the subjects have angles, curves and depth that give them the appearance of animation – sort of like dilapidated architecture dancing in the desert. You could call Hugger’s paintings “still life,” but it might be more accurate to call them “new life.”

“The types of objects I select to use as reference for my paintings are usually heavily rusted and broken pieces of metal. Often I am not able to identify them and I find that intriguing,” Hugger says. “Reusing them gives them a second life and a beauty they may not have originally had as tools or other useful items.”

Hugger started drawing in perspective and realism when he was a teenager and received a scholarship to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design, from which he graduated cum laude in 1995. While he was finishing his college education in Ohio, he participated in a group show at the 11 East Ashland Gallery in Phoenix, where an exciting local art scene was beginning to emerge. “It was during the spring time and I fell in love with the desert,” Hugger says. “The city of Phoenix was also very appealing. I drove out to the desert and found the landscape to be surreal. The plants, the cactus, the saguaros – all of it was weird and beautiful to me.”

His bond with the desert deepened while he was stationed in Iraq in 2004 as a member of the Arizona Army National Guard. “The desert was much more desolate than the Sonoran desert, but had a stark beauty of its own,” recalls Hugger, who lives in Phoenix with his wife. “I made a lot of sketches during my tour and they definitely had an influence in my surreal desert landscapes. I don’t paint cactus in my desert landscapes but they do inform my imagination when I put together a set up for a still life.”

Painting is an exploration for Hugger, who uses extremes in scale and perspective and color and light to create drama. “When I paint a still life, I am not just describing the objects in front of me,” he says. “I am also exploring the scene as if I were going there in person.”


BFA Cum Laude from Columbus College of Art and Design 1995


Albert K. Murray Scholarship, 1995

Heart of Ohio Tole Award, 1994

Heart of Ohio Tole Award, 1993

Alumni Association Scholarship, 1992

CCAD Foundation Scholarship, 1991

Selected Shows:

C Plus D Industry Artisan Market October 2019 Glendale AZ

C Plus D Industry Artisan Market September 2019 Glendale AZ

C Plus D Industry Artisan Market August 2019 Glendale AZ

Art Detour 31, Art at the Armory March 2019

The Newton Sept-November 2018 PHX AZ 85013

Grinder's Coffee Co. March & April 2018

Arizona State Fair, group show, winner 2nd prize for oil painting, 2017

Group Show at The Icehouse Gallery  PHX AZ June 2017

What's Up World group show at New City Studio PHX AZ April 2017

Collision at The Icehouse Gallery with Joe HoldrenEric CoxEric Kaspar and Eddie Sparr PHX AZ January 2017

Group Show "Oh, The Places You'll Go" at ASU Downtown, PHX AZ January 2017 to May 2017

Group Show at Grinder's Coffee Co. PHX AZ January 2017 to Current

Solo Show at Stacy's at Melrose, PHX AZ January, February 2017  

Sonoran Small Works Show at the Red Truck Trading Company, Cave Creek, AZ Dec 2016-Jan-2017

The Veteran Art Show at Unexpected Art Gallery, Sponsored by The Sonoran Arts League Nov 2016 PHX AZ

"of land, sea and sky" Arizona State University Community Arts Gallery, August 15-December 10, 2016, PHX AZ

Jason Hugger: Street Coffee, March 18 – April 11, 2016, Phoenix AZ

Artelshow presents Portmanteau A Group Show at Public Image Dec 18, 2015 – Jan 25, 2016, PHX AZ

TINY WORKS I TINY DANCES First Friday December 4, 2015 Group Show, Phoenix AZ

Tieken Gallery Grand Opening, November 2015, “The AZ45” Paradise Valley AZ

{9} The Gallery, Solo Show “Desolate Wind” September 2015, Phoenix AZ

Pita Jungle Downtown, Solo Show, August 2015 Curated by Robrt Pela Phoenix AZ

Pita Jungle Gilbert, Solo Show, July 2015. Curated by R Pela Contemporary Art Gilbert AZ

Pita Jungle Dana Point, Solo Show, Mesa, June 2015. Curated by R Pela Contemporary Art

Pita Jungle Mesa, Solo Show, May 2015. Curated by R Pela Contemporary Art

A.S.U. Downtown Center, Group Show, “Birds, Bugs, Beasts and Blooms” Phoenix AZ 2015

R.Pela Contemporary Art Gallery “Evidence of Life”, Phoenix, AZ 2014

A.E. England Gallery, “Lost and Found in Still-Life” Phoenix, AZ 2013

Urban Beans/ Tertio Wine Bar Solo Show Curated by Ted Decker 2013

Echo Coffee, Group Show, “Something More”, Curated by Ted Decker Scottsdale, AZ 2013

MonOrchid, Group Show, “Thermal Phoenix”2013

Offices of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Group Show, “Phoenix: A Creative Oasis” Curated by Ted Decker 2013

Practical Art, Solo Show, “The Silverpoint Drawings of Jason Hugger” 2013, Phoenix, AZ

Practical Art, Group Show, “Heat” 2012, Phoenix, AZ

Olney Gallery, Group Show, “MindScapes: “A Trinity of Surrealists” 2012, Phoenix AZ

MyxMedia, Group Show, 2010, Phoenix AZ

Paulina Miller Gallery, Group Show, 2008, Phoenix AZ

Contemporary Forum, Building a Collection Auction, 2008, Phoenix AZ

University of Judaism, Group Show, “Constructivism and Metaphor” 2007, Los Angeles, CA

Contemporary Forum, Auction, Phoenix, AZ 2007

Paper Heart, Group Show, 2006, Phoenix AZ

Paulina Miller Gallery, Solo Show, 2005, Phoenix AZ

Herberger Theater, Group Show, 2004, Phoenix AZ

Paulina Miller Gallery, Group Show, 2003, Phoenix AZ

Holgas Gallery, Group Show, 2002, Phoenix AZ

Paulina Miller Gallery, Group Show, 2001, Phoenix AZ

Paulina Miller Gallery, Group Show, 2000, Phoenix AZ

Art Cellar, Group Show, 1999, Mesa AZ

Artlink Second Annual Juried Show, 1998, Phoenix AZ

LauJo’s Bistro, Solo Show, 1997, Phoenix AZ

Arizona State Fair, 1997, Phoenix AZ

Artlink First Annual Juried Show, 1997, Phoenix AZ

Arizona Biennial/Tucson Museum of Art, 1997, Tucson AZ

Ashland Independent Art Space, Group Show, 1996, Phoenix AZ

Texas Fine Arts Association, Work on Tour, 1996, TX

Columbus College of Art and Design, Solo Show, 1995 Columbus OH

Ohio State Fair, won 3rd Best of Show, 1994, Columbus OH