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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Occupying Real Space

Sculpture occupies real space as we do; you walk around it and relate to it almost as another person or being in the environment. In the world of Scottsdale sculptor Jason Napier, each piece is full of attitude, challenging the viewer to smile with amusement or gasp with the subject's awe-inspiring nobility. Growing up on the Oregon Coast provided Jason with endless opportunities to explore nature's wild coastal regions and experience various ecosystems.

In the beginning, as Jason tells his story, "When I was 18 years old, I started working in a bronze casting foundry, Burning Palace Bronze in Troutdale, Oregon, to pay for college. There I was fortunate to meet exceptional and wildly successful artists. Many of them became friends and mentors." The on-the-job training provided Jason with experience working on various commissions, exposing him to materials and techniques that only the masters of their craft knew. This hands-on experience in sculpting with clay, molding, wax pouring, gating, ceramic mold, bronze pouring, metal welding, and chasing to Hot Patinas all built the foundation for Jason's work. Eventually, he was encouraged to try out his ideas in clay and lost wax. Jason states, "Under the guidance of generous mentors I completed a small body of work. That's when the spell was cast, magic happened and the doors opened."

"Under the guidance of generous mentors I completed a small body of work. That's when the spell was cast, magic happened and the doors opened."

Jason's work became recognizable for its smooth, bold shapes, the contrasting brightly textured patinas, and smooth polishing. He explains, "My style evolved into using sculptural surfaces as a canvas for my patinas. Today my unique style and colorful wildlife is nationally recognized and collected around the globe." In 1997, Jason and his wife Danielle opened a gallery in Friday Harbor, Washington. They quickly learned how seasonal the art market was on San Juan Island, prompting them to search for larger cities where the art market was thriving. An invitation arrived for juried show in Scottsdale, Arizona about this time. The couple packed up Jason's sculpture and accepted the gamble this might be the place. Napier reflects, "No doubt; this was the best decision we ever made; we have been spending winters here ever since." The Napier's became full-time residences of Scottsdale's thriving arts community in 2020.

Inspiration comes from many places. Jason and Danielle spend much of their time hiking and traveling. Their particular focus is on wildlife; the challenge is to spot an animal in a unique pose or setting that inspires them, a brainstorming session begins; this typically results with Jason "Heating the clay pot!" to capture the animal spirit of the moment spinning it into a captivating sculptural piece. Napier's creative critters are seen throughout the year in fine art shows in Arizona, California, Utah, Florida, Washington. He is also represented by several fine art galleries across the country. He welcomes appointments for special projects and loves the face-to-face process of creating a commissioned piece. Jason gives back to the arts community by serving as an artist advisor for the #1 Fine Art Show in the Nation, La Quinta Art Celebration, and sitting on the board of Cougar Mountain Zoo in Issaquah, Washington. Locally, Jason Napier is a member of the Sonoran Arts League and participates in the annual Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour in November each year.


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