De La Vega. If I could write this article in chalk, I would. Chalk is the medium that propelled New York artist De La Vega to fame and helps keep New Yorkers happy. Happy from chalk? De La Vega started in the 90’s drawing quick, but beautiful, images with inspirational messages on the sidewalks of Manhattan. The works stopped busy New Yorkers in their tracks and forced them to “smell the flowers”. No one wanted to walk over the drawings, the same way people walk around and admire John Lennon’s “Imagine” circle memorial in Central Park. With hectic and stressful schedules, De La Vega’s works gave us all a smile and some thoughts to chew on. He is unbelievably smart at getting your attention.
Oddly, he doesn’t want the attention for himself, just his work. If you are lucky to spot him, he’s always in dark glasses and a hat. And then he’s gone. He has always been kind enough to do some art work for my store. When we hang it up, people flock to admire it, take pictures, and then ask how we can help them meet him. It’s the message that sticks.
He no longer does chalk work on the street, but now instead writes and draws on objects (mostly furniture) people throw out. Once it’s in the garbage and gets “blessed” by De La Vega, it comes OUT of the garbage and back into a home. One person’s trash gets “De La Vega’d” and becomes another person’s treasure.
I could go on and on but one story I remember well will explain a lot. It was around February 2009, early in the morning, and freezing. I see him on the street and we walk together and talk. He asked how I was doing, so I told him the truth. At the time, I was in a really problematic relationship with a bi-polar girl. Yeah, that was fun. And I told him that no matter how much I did, this girl wanted more. Of course, “more” was mostly a guarantee of “more” money. He looked at me, smiling and laughing, and simply said, “That’s her problem.”
That short and to-the-point answer explained a lot. That’s De La Vega and you will understand more of him with the answers he provided for Piazza Life in this great interview.
1) What’s the main driving force in your art? That thing that, no matter how hard life can be, will always get you out there doing what you do best.
I am a Prophet and am delivering God’s prophecy.
2) You are friendly, social, and popular. You know everyone and everyone knows you. Do you remember each person you meet? And do you feel there is a reason for each meeting?
I have selective memory.
3) For as long as I have known you (going back to the 90’s), you have been an eternal optimist. You won’t and don’t let anything bring you down. Is this a natural trait or something that you have to continuously work on? Or both?
I’m always high.
4) De La Vega is ALWAYS seen with a cigar. Which cigars are your favorite and why?
DE LA VEGA does not smoke cigars in real life. It’s a prop like Popeye’s pipe.
5) If you had to choose: Either no cigars for a year or no art for a year. Which one? That’s a tough one, I am sure !
No art. I don’t believe in art. I believe in DE LA VEGA
6) Do you believe man is inherently good?
Man is inherently stupid as fuck.
7) Do you believe in an After Life?
I hope the exit is joyful and I hope to never return. -Frida Kahlo
8) Last meal?
9) With “Become Your Dream” you have been staying on message for almost 20 years. It is the foundation of your art and outlook. How did it come about?
BECOME YOUR DREAM is prophecy. Prophecy is hand delivered from God.
10) What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m short sighted. The moment is everything.
11) Where do you see the world in 10, 20 years?
DE LA VEGA is the reincarnation of Van Gogh; his revenge
12) A message for the youth:
Master reading, writing, listening, and dressing. Be punctual.