Pop art by Devin Vasquez repurposes old treasures for modern use

Devin Vasquez showcases her vintage pop art, which features reimagined luggage and bags. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

bright spotDevin Vasquez turns what some see as junk into refurbished treasures.

The Albuquerque artist reinvents objects that owners have deemed useless, such as worn-out luggage and broken radios, into accessories with a vintage twist. Her pop art style is unique and vibrant, bringing a sense of joy to people who visit her booths at vendor fairs.

“It’s very colorful and eye-catching. … It appeals to everybody, which I think is great,” Vasquez said.

Part of this appeal is the way Vasquez blends the classic and modern eras. Although only 28 years old, she has a masterful skill set and this is partly due to the fact that she has been creating since her early teens – around the same time she started her first business. Vasquez created handmade jewelry at the age of 12, but then her art evolved into tapestry, car painting and now recycled artwork.

Devin Vasquez shows off one of her bags on the radio. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

She says her most popular items are the luggage and bags she creates. Vasquez will frequent garage and estate sales, thrift and antique stores, and even spot something on top of a fence or tossed on the side of a dumpster to buy a few items that catch her eye.

Vasquez explained that the first step in the process is to check the property’s value online. That’s the collector in her, and after bringing home a $15 piece of furniture from a garage sale, she almost learned the hard way about the importance of research.

She said of the furniture, “I took it home and almost didn’t look for it to see if it was worth it. It was a piece made by Paul McCobb in the 50s or 60s and it was worth a lot of money.

Vasquez’s most creative process may be the way she repurposes old Bakelite radios. As with all her items, she makes any necessary repairs and then digs out and cleans the inside of the radio before finishing the outside with her vibrant pop art.

The artist has always found appeal in the vintage look of the ’50s or ’60s, saying “everything is so beautiful” from that classic era.

“The architecture, the clothing, the cars, everything had its own style and I absolutely love it,” she said. “I think it’s a style that never goes out of style.”

Her admiration for the time period is partly due to the influence her father gave her as an aerialist. Not only did his eventual work in cars inspire Vasquez’s style, he also taught her about industry management.

Fortunately, both of Vasquez’s parents are creative business owners. Her mother is a nail technician and business owner herself, so Vasquez was gifted with the best of the creative and business worlds.

“They’ve always been super supportive,” Vasquez said of her parents. “It’s great to have them both there to bounce ideas off of because they also have that artist mentality.”

Vasquez has found similar camaraderie in the local art community, saying she’s grateful for the network that welcomed her and the connections she made.

Devin Vasquez uses a vintage pop art style in her work. (Courtesy of Devin Vasquez)

She says she hopes to open a small studio and then expand into a low-pressure retail store — more of a hangout where artists can connect and showcase their talents.

“I feel like no matter where you go, as long as you have something that you make work, people will be attracted to it. I feel my work is very accessible.”

Vasquez displays and sells her art primarily at vendor fairs, but also does commissions for clients interested in her style. Her work will then be featured in the Women’s Art Show on October 2 in the Pete V. Domenici Education Building located at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

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