Power Pop

Bright colors, sharp lines and bold lettering give Angee Jackson’s vinyl art punch

The pop culture décor of Angee Jackson’s living room says a lot about her own art. In the corner, she’s got a 1965 Lucky Strike pinball machine with fantastic drawings of suburban women bowling. Next to that are three pink Eames-esque fiberglass shell chairs that look fresh from a funky old Laundromat. Beyond that is an enormous shelf of vinyl records. Then there’s the 4-foot-high thrift-store painting of an eight-point buck, praying hands and a serpent.

“I have no idea what it means,” Jackson says as she gives me the tour. “I just liked it.” Jackson, 36, grew up in Las Vegas and studied art at UNLV. Her love of pop culture images was a natural byproduct of living in the kitsch capital, being a movie and music addict, and taking a job as a sign maker for Tower Records and then Trader Joe’s. She’s an accomplished painter, but it’s her cut vinyl work that will be featured at Gamma Gamma Gallery in Emergency Arts through Aug. 28.

Her work’s subject matter is drawn in part from the kind of collectibles in her house—inspired by consumer packaging, old advertisements and pop images. She’s also drawn to characters—she’s particularly “obsessed” with guitarist Link Wray, the 1950s-’60s rocker who is said to have invented guitar distortion and the power chord. On the wall in her hallway, she’s got a signed painting she did of Wray. Her hallway is full of framed, autographed pictures of select pop cultures figures such of Adam West and Dan Aykroyd—all of which she painted upon hearing they’d be in town and available for autographs.

“I’m a bit of an autograph hound. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to end up on some weird show like Hoarders. But all of this is a part of me. I’ve just always loved it.”

When she studied art, she says, she continually struggled with the notion that art should make a powerful social statement. But, she says, “I was never really drawn to making these statements.” Instead, she prefers to reflect the culture with mixes of common images layered in new ways to suggest different tones and storytelling.

Her vinyl work is accomplished through the painstaking process of precisely cutting sheets of different colored vinyl and layering them to create comic-book inspired pictures—bright colors, sharp lines, bold words across the face of the pictures.

She has a body of work that is influenced by old Vegas—paintings not only of, but about, the Moulin Rouge, Elvis and Louis Prima—stories she presents in the imagery of über-happy pop culture but which take on a tragic tone in her presentation.

For example, a bright vinyl featuring Jerry Lee Lewis has bold lettering across the top: “I’m so lonely all the time.”

She began working in vinyl in 2001 in the course of making signs for her job, but soon realized it was a perfect medium for her artistic work. On a lark, she made a sticker of a Steve McQueen head for a friend, and then later created her first official vinyl portrait, “Rich Coffee,” which set her off on a new chapter of her art.