Art Scene: Snake Jagger by Kylie Knight
Snake Jagger has spent his whole life inspired and creatively influenced by the raw nature and beautiful desert landscapes of the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas. Many know his work through his depiction of surreal desert scenes and landscapes. His clever use of juxtaposing everyday objects into his work typically makes for an effortless attack at the viewer’s imagination and heightens our ability to notice the generally unnoticed. A surrealist artist turned abstract painter, Snake Jagger challenges himself and those around him in such a way that should inspire for years to come. I recently conducted this short interview with Snake in hopes to learn more about his influence, everyday life, and plans he might have for his art in the near future.
KK: Many of your paintings depict surrealist desert landscapes, what is it about the desert that inspires you?
SJ: The desert has inspired me since the days of my youth when I used to come down from LA to visit my Dad who worked for Frank Sinatra. We used to stay at his house on Wonder Palms Road, which is now Frank Sinatra Drive, and I used to play across the street in the desert which is not there anymore. I loved the dry heat, desert wildlife, and mostly the wide open spaces. It just seemed to creep into my soul. I used to imagine what it would be like to live in a tent on the desert dunes like some roaming nomad. Then a couple of years later I was chosen as one of the caretakers of a property called the “Vines” below the tram, there we would keep people out, grow vegetables in our giant garden, and keep the fire roads clear as well. I fell in love with the San Jacinto Mountain, it’s arms enveloped us in a paradise like setting complete with hot water bubbling up from the ground and a variety of animals running to and fro. By then I was deeply moved by the desert I lived in, close to the ground, protected by mother earth. That is why it still inspires me to this day.
KK: You describe your artwork as ‘whimsical surrealism.’ What made you cultivate that term?
I’m not sure when I came to use that term, it was early in my career, but I do know that it seemed like the most accurate description of my work. I want to entertain people with my visions of a manicured landscape and show them what is possible if we took seriously our responsibility to care for our planet. I use whimsy to grab people’s attention and keep them looking for a little longer than they normally would if there were not little surprises, or things out of place.
KK: What events in your life have influenced or shaped your current state of work?
My current new work is a total 180 from my traditional style of painting. I decided to reinvent myself after sitting all weekend at the Scottsdale Art Festival 2 years ago in Arizona, not selling much at all, totally disappointed in the state of the economy which seemed to prevent people from purchasing my desert landscapes any more. Finally I became less and less inspired to paint landscapes and ultra-tight scenes and paintings. I decided that it is now MY turn to throw paint and scribble and scratch forms and colors on a canvas. After working hard at trying to do abstract painting, I discovered that it was not as easy as I had thought, but it challenged me in a way which I had not been challenged at in a very long time. I now have a new respect for abstract work, and I am re-inspired to try to express myself creatively doing it. Doing my traditional work just became a chore and it’s not as fun as when I first started doing it. I’ve done it for over 30 years now. It’s time for a change.
KK: When are you at your most comfortable?
I am most comfortable when I am in my studio being creative, or working in my garden or yard, or hiking in nature.
KK: What things in life are most important to you?
The most important thing in my life is my daughter, then my work, and my family. I would also like to leave behind a positive message, happy faces, smiles and wonderment when people look at my art, and hopefully to make my daughter proud for the rest of her life and the life of her offspring and so on. I also hope to inspire countless other young artists to follow their dreams. I hope that the character Snake Jagger will be remembered in a positive way as someone who loved the world that God gave us.
KK: What’s the first thing you notice about a piece of art?
I think it’s colors that make me take notice of a piece of art, well that would be a painting, for other types of art it could be anything. I notice art. I know what I like and what I don’t like. I’ve seen a lot of art over the years. I am amazed at the diversity and creativity of my fellow artists. I can’t put my finger on any one thing really. But I do like seeing all the different things people come up with that is considered art.
KK: What type of art do you like to collect?
To be honest, I have so much art around me, my own that is, that I do not collect many works of art by other people. Occasionally when I see something I feel I must have it might be a small painting or a unique sculpture, but I just don’t have room for much of anything these days. If I had a huge house I would definitely collect pieces of art from other people, I just don’t want to own something just to have to put it away somewhere. There are a couple of artists on Catalina Island whose work I love and have had to own a couple of pieces, paintings and sculptures. I do collect things that are related to pirates. I love skull rings and pirate clothes and stuff like that. Now that is something I love to collect, pirate booty!
KK: Where can we see your work? Do you have any events coming up?
I have a show going on now until April 29th, at Images by Gideon gallery in the Backstreet Art District. It’s my new abstract work and assemblage sculptures. We will have an encore opening on April 21st from 6 to 9. The address is 2682 S. Cherokee Way in Palm Springs. I am also going to be showing my traditional style of painting for the last time at the Indian Wells Art Festival April 6th, 7th,and 8th at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens. I say for the last time because I am taking a break from doing the old style and concentrating on evolving my new style. I also have a good variety of work available at Crystal Fantasy in Palm Springs. They have a few originals and a lot of limited edition giclee prints available. And there are a few pieces available at Just Fabulous in Palm Springs as well. Oh, and let’s not forget that you can see my traditional work as always in El Mirasol restaurant in Palm Springs where I have been showing for the last 30 years or so, and my mural work at the Blue Coyote in Palm Springs, where you can see a plethora of murals all over the place.
Ph 760 320-0609
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
website for old work, www.snakejagger.com
website for new work, www.snakejagger.weebly.com