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Tom Vega
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Park Slope


The communication of mood and feeling through the medium of color is of primary intention in my work.

References to landscape, movement, the figure, and cultural context form the underlying messages—though veiled...and irrevocably transformed.


Born on the tropical island of Puerto Rico, my earliest memories were emotional, visual, and tactile. Surrounded by and engulfed in tropical light, color took on an identity that was indelible. For me, feelings had color. Music and words had color. Embraces had color. Food and its tastes had color.

I moved to New York at the age of six, where I arrived from Puerto Rico during a blizzard—a painful experience. Raised in Little Italy listening to Mario Lanza from loudspeakers on the corner, I was a child prodigy on the violin. I taught junior high and high school, provided guidance counseling, worked for the Board of Education, and helped found and taught classes at El Museo del Barrio. My desire to strengthen children later inspired me to train as a psychotherapist and begin an exploration of interior landscapes. I painted throughout these years and bring this rich lifetime of experience to my works, which are intense, abstract, and intuitive and which call up visceral reactions—spiritual, sensual, elated, angry, or pained.

Classically trained in fine art at the New York City High School for Music and Art and NYU, I am, at heart, an emotion-eliciting colorist, evoking a catharsis through color and landscapes of emotion and feeling. Large acrylic panels, some in horizontal diptych or triptych format, are earthy, rude, elegiac, strident, lovely, quiet, religious, and climactic by turn, and capture moments where the visual is inseparably physical and emotional.

I live in color, express through color, and speak, control, resolve, and am magically at home in color.


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Participated in various group shows, gallery and media exhibitions,
* 440 Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Luz/Oscuridad, Brooklyn, New York, 2008
* Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC) Featured Artist, Color Caliente, Brooklyn
New York, July 2008
* 440 Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Riffs on Color, Brooklyn, New York, 2006
* 440 Gallery, Solo Exhibition, Color - Mi Vida, Brooklyn, New York, 2005
* BWAC Pier Shows, Brooklyn, New York, 2003-2008
* ABC Television's The Bachelorette, 2005
* Project Diversity, a multi-venue exhibition of Brooklyn Artists
(Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation), 2005
* Martinez Gallery, Intimations of Grace; Recent Paintings, Troy, New York, 2003-05
* The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Taino, 1976
* El Museo del Barrio, Navidad, 1969-73
* American Artists Traveling Collection, 1963-66
* United States Government Office of Information Services
* New York University, Loeb Center, 1962-63

Work is part of several collections, both private and institutional, including:
* New York City Board of Education
* New York University
* El Museo del Barrio
* The Metropolitan Museum of Art
* Deborah Barbiere and Bob LoPorto
* Edena Barreto
* Christine Brautigan
* Estate of Noma Copley
* Stefanija Damova
* Chuck Glicksman
* Ann Haggerty
* Maureen Houtrides
* Trish Loughlin
* David Oppenheimer
* Patricia Ryan
* John Strohbeen
* Sergio Vega
* Thomas K. Vega

* Color Caliente (New York: BWAC, 2008).

Illustrated numerous publications, including:
* Borinquen...and then Columbus
* Quimbamba
* Three Magi
All published by El Museo del Barrio, 1973-75

* Living Is A Lot of Work
Published by the New York City Board of Education, 1975

* The Resource
Published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1983-85

Television and Film

Tom Vega's paintings were used on the sets of "The Bachelorette" (Season Three) (2005), "The Unusuals" (2009), and "Gimme Shelter" (2012).

Other Art-Related Experiences
Auction Co-Chairperson, BWAC, 2004-08
Art Juror, Supreme Court of New York, 2004-05
Panelist, Brooklyn Arts Council, 2002-04

Born: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Education: New York University (BS, 1963; MA, 1964)

647 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217


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