Craig Zuger is a native of Oregon’s Willamette Valley where he currently lives today with his wife Yolanda and their collection of animals. Their home, and Craig’s studio is located on more than a hundred acres of native White oak forest that’s part of a conservation effort to restore and maintain the dwindling habitat, home to many threatened species of plants and animals. The goal of this project is to keep this area safe from development in the future and be kept as a conservation project in perpetuity.
As a child Craig spent a great deal of time outdoors with his family and it was during this time that a brewing interest in art began and the love of the land began to inspire an artistic path. Around 1980 a local businessman commissioned Craig to paint a portrait of the late Moshe Dyan who served as Defense Minister of Israel. The painting was presented to him at the end of a visit he made to a local university. About a year later an opportunity came about that Craig couldn’t pass up. He would be part of a crew that set out to re-trace the homeward bound route of Lewis & Clark and do it all by canoe and horseback. Following the journals of the explorers, the trip would take six months to complete. “This trip from the Oregon coast to St. Louis, Missouri had the most influence on me as an artist and made clear that I really wanted to focus on painting the landscape.”
Over the next few years Craig made countless trips to the wilderness with a longtime friend and naturalist who was compiling data and material for field guides and books about Oregon. The OPB television series “Oregon Field Guide” was doing a piece on Craig’s friend and at the end of his feature, the thought of creating a story about artists was discussed with the show’s producers, and eventually was filmed with Craig as one of three artists represented.
“I have painted a variety of subjects over the years, but it’s my love affair with the land that continues to captivate my attention as a source for paintings. Our natural world should be as important to us as it is to animals or flowers or trees. Its critical to our survival and our souls. This is why I have been so deeply inspired in my own meager way to attempt to paint such beauty. I will never let up in my education as a painter, since doing so would fail my goal to depict the land as respectfully and artfully as possible.”