by Sandra Hale Schulman via HamptonsArtHub.comIn 1971, budding artist Arturo Vega was arrested in Mexico City with 149 others. The big, boldface headline in the Mexican daily El Nacional on February 13, 1971 read: “Federal Judicial Police Arrest 149 Drug Addicted Hippies of Both Sexes.”Vega (1947–2013) carried this clipping around with him until his death in 2013, a stark reminder of the oppression he narrowly escaped when he emigrated to New York City. The detained “hippies” were actually 148 important actors, actresses, artists, writers, poets and filmmakers of the day, including the famous Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorsky. They were all arrested at a party in an affluent suburb of Mexico City.
The clipping would become more than a reminder of his “hippie” past. While he initially moved to New York not long after the arrest to pursue a career in the performing arts, auditioning for the touring version of the Broadway musical ‘Hair,” he had been actively producing collages as a visual artist starting in 1970.
In his visual arts work, Vega used that headline clip as a springboard for exploring his fascination with the power of the printed word in hundreds of paintings and prints throughout his prolific career as a graphic designer and artist. Today, he is best known for his association with—and designing the round logo for—the Ramones, who are currently the subject of a retrospective called “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” at the Queens Museum running through July 31, 2016