When Halloween rolls around in Tucson I can’t help but think of the epic creations that spew out of local multimedia sculpture artist Matt Harper‘s brain. From gawking goblins to creepy witches, Harper can make any pumpkin look like something straight out of your nightmares.
He’s been carving typical jack-o’ lanterns since he was a kid and really started a more “concerted effort to have them recognizable” in the 2010s. Harper has a background working with clay, metal, stone, and wood but grew quite fond of carving produce — which eventually led him to compete on Food Network’s “Halloween Wars” in 2019.
My whole perspective changed when I discovered sushi — after many years of avoiding it. I then became adventurous in my pursuit of new food choices and never looked back!
Pasta sauce, each and every time from scratch and I never use a recipe… sometimes I’ll get rave reviews, other times not so much. I learned this “roulette” method from my dad.
A set of strong clay carving tools and ribbon loops made of metal — the heavier duty the better. Pumpkins are much less forgiving than clay and cheap tools break easily… then you get frustrated.
My good friend Paul and I started a YouTube show called Carvers and Creators during COVID. We meet each week and interview amazing artists all while challenging ourselves to create art on the fly — with no reference. It is really tough but has helped me stay very practiced and motivated. Oh, and when we can’t find pumpkins, butternut, or Kabocha squash, sweet potatoes are a great alternative!
My three wonderful daughters and my new girlfriend… The conversations are endless and always hilarious. Oh, and they are as gastronomically adventurous as me!
If I have to pick one… New Orleans. Such passion is put into food there, it is easy to find great places to eat.
Which is my favorite child?! Okay, not that bad… I’ve carved so many over the years (over 400 on my Instagram @harpersculpture) and although I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with these things, I did one recently that I was quite happy with, my kissing witch. This answer will also change as the wind blows or until my next one.
Locale, Contigo (Nick and Deb do no wrong — always a wonderful experience), and Ginza Sushi (best in town, in my honest opinion).
Tons of Toro tuna, Uni (Sea urchin roe), and a giant T-Bone steak. I’d eat so much that when they throw the switch I explode!
Tucson Foodie is a locally owned and operated community. Thanks to our partners and members, we are able to offer paywall-free guides and articles. We value your support and invite you to become a Tucson Foodie Insider today.
At a very young age, Matt Sterner was gifted with the artistic ability to masterfully roll a burrito to the highest of standards, but the wrapped medley of delicious innards wasn’t his first love. Matt’s first true love was a...