Visual Arts

Hugo Medina on Heritage, Inspiration, and His Upcoming Projects with Xico and Calle 16

Local artist Hugo Medina (better known as just Hugo) could be likened to a tight rope walker in a circus -- if the tight rope walker was also spinning plates while balancing candles on their head while juggling apples while smoking a cigar.

In other words, Hugo is one busy guy, working on a variety of projects alongside other local artists to benefit the local community. When we caught up with Hugo five months ago, he was getting ready for an exhibition to benefit the Icehouse, the first venue to show his art in the Valley six years ago.

Now, Hugo's working on several new projects, including a group show at Barrio Café for the Calle 16 mural project, a group show at Xico, an art series called the Bolivia "Mi tierra" series, and a fundraising show for Phoenix Mayoral candidate Greg Stanton.

We recently caught up with Hugo to discuss these projects, along with his vision of the Calle 16 murals, and his inspirations.

The first of Hugo's projects will be the Calle 16 group show at Barrio Café, opening August 8.

In addition to his own work, the mural project will feature art from Gennaro Garcia, Lalo Cota, and Casebeer.

Hugo's piece in the show will be a painting of a cigar roller, but he says he "might do a new piece" for the show, too.

On August 26, Hugo will participate in a group show opening at Xico in Chandler. The show features portraits of community people that have inspired the participating artists.

Hugo has two portraits of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (currently on display at galleries in Los Angeles) that he hopes to get back in time for the Xico show. "What I admire about Frida is she was ahead of her time, and she did art for herself," Hugo says.

"When she was alive, she was in the shadow if Diego Rivera, but her own artwork is filled with culture, integrity, love, passion, and herself. Frida is such a phenomenal artist."

The Bolivia "Mi Tierra" series is still in the planning stages, but Hugo says it's important to him because of his heritage. "I'm a Bolivian-born artist, and I'm trying to do a show that revolves around my culture -- the people, the land, the music, the food, and so forth." He says he hopes to so a small show on the theme at Barrio Café to launch the series.

And before he runs out of breath, Hugo is also in the process of planning "The Bicycle" installation he's doing for a fundraiser for former Phoenix City Councilman (and current candidate for mayor) Greg Stanton. Hugo says the project is still unconfirmed, but he's working toward an August 17 show date.

"I used to love riding my BMX bike in New York City. I currently have a three-seater bike for my family," he says. "This is going to be an installation featuring the bicycle and the evolution of the bicycle, showing how the bicycle has evolved over time."

For more information on Hugo, his art, and upcoming local art projects, visit

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