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Friday, October 31, 2014

Graffiti artist finds success as a modern muralist

By Felix Holoszyc-Pimentel
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Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Graffiti muralist Jeremy 'Garcia' Vega works on a wall for A&F Service Station on 3145 Bailey Avenue.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Graffiti muralist Jeremy 'Garcia' Vega works on a wall for A&F Service Station on 3145 Bailey Avenue.
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A Bailey Avenue garage is turning into a showcase for modern art.

Graffiti artist Jeremy Vega, who goes by the artist’s name “Garcia,” is currently working on the final stages of a new mural for A & F Service Station at 3145 Bailey Ave. Mr. Vega has known the owners of the A & F Service Station since he first began driving as a teenager. The mural, which depicts a ’50s era drive-in theater, is heavily influenced by the works of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Mr. Vega recreated several of Mr. Lichtenstein’s most famous works for the mural.

The local artist admires Lichtenstein as one of the first artists to develop a uniquely American style. Mr. Vega said he still sees Lichtenstein’s influence in sources from comic books to advertisements.   

A lifelong resident of Kingsbridge, Mr. Vega says he has always had an interest in art. He began honing his graffiti skills when he was 12.  As he worked on his skills, he began to realize the potential of the medium to create works of art — not vandalism.

“You kinda graduate the graffiti part,” he said.

Mr. Vega has worked up and down the East coast for years, making works in Philadelphia, Miami and other cities. He has finished a number of murals for small mom-and-pop shops and larger corporations like Boost Mobile. 

The artist says he enjoys traveling to fulfill contracts because it gives him a chance to spend some recreational time in the city he is visiting. He also has time to paint for personal enjoyment.

“When you are a visual artist, you want to be able to travel and experience your work,” Mr. Vega, 28, said. “It gives you the luxury of getting time to do your own work.”

Over the years, he has seen the world’s view on graffiti art change considerably.

Originally associated with defacement and crime, spray-paint and graffiti art has, over the years, been embraced by mainstream culture around the world.  Advertisers’ tastes have changed, and they now acknowledge the widespread appeal of spray paint art. Mr. Vega says in the ’80s and ’90s, paintbrush advertising was prominent, but early in the millennium, spray paint style became more popular.

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