His name alone makes you stop in curiosity. His art will do the same.
“With a name like Snake Jagger you can’t be boring, you got to be a character,” says the Morongo Valley artist. “The best part of the job is about selling yourself, and once they like you they’ll want a piece of you.”
Jagger’s paintings use vibrant colors and elements that appear out-of-place to bring art enthusiasts into his work. For example, Jagger takes a vision in his mind and turns it into a juxtaposed piece such as a French maid from the 1920s sweeping the dust off the ground of a canyon, or a piece featuring Seward Johnson’s Marilyn Monroe statue towering over an area of the desert with an existing doorway in the distance that only a good eye would see.
“When they start noticing something out of place, they look at everything,” he says.
Jagger’s way of turning his art pieces into a look-and-find activity works well in a big outdoor event like the Indian Wells Arts Festival where more than 200 artists will showcase their work, March 29–31 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. This will be Jagger’s 17th year at the festival where he shows much of his convivial character through his art.
Jagger acquired his name at the age of 19 when he says he was a “naked hippie” living in a tent below the aerial tramway. He decided to preserve a freshly dead rattlesnake, which he took right off the road one day and stored in the freezer of the restaurant he worked at the time. From that moment on, Jagger was only “Snake.”
A year later, “Snake,” took the stage one night in between work shifts and lip synced as Mick Jagger to a Rolling Stones song, signaling not only the start to his short lip-syncing career but when he found his identity fully as Snake Jagger.
Lip syncing became a weekly adventure. “When I did it in Maui, I never really thought it would turn into anything,” Jagger says. “But when I came back to California, suddenly the nightclubs would have the lip sync contests — $100 if you win. You can win a trip for two to Mexico, a trip to Hawaii; that’s how I got to Catalina.”
“To be an artist and pay your bills is really success. I’m not rich but the bills are paid, I’m OK, I’ve got money, and I’m free."
— Snake Jagger
After nearly five years of lip syncing in nightclubs in the valley, putting on shows for an audience by dressing up like Cher, or taking the stage as David Bowie by using a loaf of bread as a guitar, Jagger put his lip sync career to rest and started taking his art as a business more seriously.
Jagger’s homespace shows that change where he welcomes guests into his home gallery. You can see his newer abstract paintings that he has experimented with, including a 3D abstract piece where the colors jump out at you only with the use of 3D glasses.
“To be an artist and pay your bills is really success. I’m not rich but the bills are paid, I’m OK, I’ve got money, and I’m free,” Jagger says.
Indian Wells Arts Festival, March 29–31, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, 78200 Miles Ave. Tickets are available at tickets.indianwellsartsfestival.com for $13 before the event or at the gate. Children age 12 and under are free.
Snake also participates in the Highway 62 Open Studio Art Tours. His home gallery is open to the public by appointment at snakejagger.com and use the form at the bottom of his homepage. For more information on the tour, visit hwy62arttours.org.
Can you see the doorway in Snake Jagger's take on Seward Johnson's Marilyn Monroe statue.