Perhaps best known for designing the Santa Fe Opera House, John McHugh (1918-1995) was also a highly skilled artist whose paintings range from representational to semi-abstract. Light and form are characteristic of both his architecture and art as throughout his life, architecture influenced his art and art inspired his architecture.
McHugh, graduated cum laude from the School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame in 1941 then served as a planner in the U.S. Army Air Force and spent time studying and traveling in Europe and teaching at Notre Dame. He moved to Santa Fe in 1946 and joined John Gaw Meem’s architectural firm. In 1955, McHugh opened his own office with fellow architect Van Dorn Hooker. He remained in private practice for 35 years ending his career in 1989 at the firm of McHugh, Lloyd and Associates.
His commissions included three versions of the Santa Fe Opera; the Maxwell Museum and Anthropology Building at the University of New Mexico; Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Taos; St. James Episcopal Church, Taos; Our Lady of the Assumption, Albuquerque; and the restoration of St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe. Historic restoration projects include the mission church at San Ildefonso Pueblo and St. Augustine Church, Isleta Pueblo.
Throughout his architectural career McHugh continued to paint and create serigraph prints. His art was influenced by American modernism and he shared a love of creating scenes of the New Mexico landscape as did his close friend Gustave Baumann.