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Inliquid Artist Profile: Local painter Anthony Vega

Anthony Vega's 'Up a Gum Tree'

Anthony Vega

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a content partnership with InLiquid.

Anthony Vega
Drexel Hill, PA

Where do you live and work?

I live just outside the city, on the wrong side of the tracks in Drexel Hill. Literally, we are on the "less expensive" side of the Philadelphia suburb, with trolley tracks as the dividing line. I think John Mellencamp had a song about a similar situation. 

All kidding aside, it's a great neighborhood that is really close to the city. My studio is in Port Richmond.

What is your discipline?

I have discipline when sleeping in, eating, binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix, spending the most fun amount of time with my wife -- but in regard to my work, I am a painter. 

I am fully aware of painting being a seemingly out-of-vogue medium filled with traditional and historical trappings of boredom and apathy, but it is what I find interesting to use in my practice. 

I think paint does a couple of things really well: 1) It operates in physicality and time -- it's a made thing, records physical choices over time and is a document of both of those things to folks who look at the work). 2) It is great at being reproduced, repeated and/or then re-translated. Paint lets me play with all of the interests I have; interface, reproduction, media, narrative, color, scale, access, history, tradition, clarity, opacity, etc. 

I am also an educator and curator.

What training/arts education have you had?

I received an MFA from the University of Delaware, and a BA in Philosophy and Fine Art from St. Joseph's University.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on two series of paintings. One is a continuation of my drag queen series of work that was first shown a little over a year ago at my gallery LG Tripp, in Old City. The other is a new series that feature ads from American Apparel, among other things, and the use of an iPhone app to then censor parts of the image using little pixilated squares that I paint. I also have some other ideas in the works. 
Describe your method

Interesting question. I suppose my methods are grounded in my interests in how we use language and the relationship that has to how we relate that language to images. I think mostly of media, screens, technology, social interaction, digital and otherwise; the expectations we have around looking and the potential surprise of discovery. That said, I take my interests, explore them in images and then think about how to potentially translate that into paint. I use digital tools, projection, drawing, apps, etc. to get to some way of having the paintings operate as pure abstraction and image (recognizable visual content) simultaneously. When it comes down to it, I guess my methods are a goofy attempt at dealing with how to make a painting in 2013, with phones, cameras and computers being so much better than anything paint can do.

What's next up for you?
Well, I hope to have some work in the Miami Art Fairs again this December and perhaps another show at LG Tripp in early-to-mid 2014. In the studio ,I have some video ideas, paintings about proximity and some photography and print plans dealing in the works. 

What inspires you?

I think I am inspired by the use of language, how that relates to image and, at the core, how we share that. In a word, I'm inspired by access. Access, or access to communication, to new ways of looking, thinking, sharing, questioning, liking, dis-liking. Probably not the most sexy answer, but the way we use words is pretty amazing and quite crazy. It inspires me.

What do you hope people will get out of your work?

Having people just see the work is always exciting. I hope they feel invited to spend the time with the work, to investigate it, ask questions and then formulate possible answers. I really can't be too dogmatic about my work, because the nature of interpretation is so flexible. I just want people to look and ideally have some type of response.

INLIQUID is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to providing opportunities for visual artists and designers, serving as a free public hub for arts information and resources and making the visual arts more accessible to a broader audience through a continuing series of community-based art exhibitions and programs. 
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