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Windows on the World: The Art of Jessica Vogel

By Mike Rosso
Photos by Brett Vogel

It would make a great story to describe how Salida’s Jessica Vogel was inspired by her grandfather, who was a glass painter in Belleville, Illinois.

“But,” says Vogel, “the truth of it is that a neighbor of mine left some old windows with a ‘free’ sign out by the curb and my husband grabbed them for me” speaking of her colorful paintings rendered on old windows.

Vogel, who for eight years has run the Art and Salvage Gallery in downtown Salida created her first glass piece with her daughter Violet.

“I had seen people paint on old windows and I loved it. I wanted to do a project with my daughter, so I did what I usually do: I researched it. And as it turned out, people had been painting on old windows for decades, all over the country,” she explained.

“The earliest reference I could find was Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York in the early ‘80s. I researched a bit about painting in reverse, and then just went for it … I love the Italian masters, so my first pieces were mainly icons. I would give them as gifts to my friends and family in the beginning. My friends continually encouraged me to open my own space. So I did.”

Inspired by the outdoors and nature, Vogel enjoys mountain biking, hiking, floating the river and just being outside.

“I’m also inspired by color and pattern when I travel, foreign textiles and traditional art. I like the unlimited number of combinations that I can put together, mainly depending on my mood. And of course, I’m continually inspired by my family. I’m very proud of them. They keep me sane, and laughing.”

Vogel works primarily in acrylics and traces her arts background to college.

[InContentAdTwo] “I studied photojournalism in college, so I took a lot of required art classes. But photo was my thing. I was a commercial photographer for many years and my artistic outlet was Polaroid transfers. I learned the process in college and had created them for years, selling some here and there,” she explained. “But then Polaroid went out of business and I began painting on old wood, metal, whatever I could find. I’ve never really made the jump to canvas, or more traditional surfaces. I always liked the hunt for interesting things to paint on, and the idea of bringing things back to life.”

Vogel, along with her daughter, will spend hours foraging at junk stores, antique shops and salvage yards for unique and interesting things to paint on.

“I find lately I have less and less time to go out and search, but we try to make time. And since I have been doing this for so long, often times people remember me and bring me things they think I would like.”

Jessica Vogel at work on the glass art piece which is the cover of this month’s issue.

Asked where some of her work landed after purchase, she said “My husband and I were discussing this the other night, as a matter of fact. We were playing the ‘Where in the world is Jessica’s art?’ game, which was kind of thrilling for me to think about actually. We figured that at this point, after all these years, we could name 12 countries and almost all of the states, at least that I know of. Many galleries don’t share with me where the paintings go. It boggles my mind. I’m both flattered and humbled by it all, really.”

Vogel also finds inspiration in local artists Lynn Van De Water, Susan Mayfield and Stephen Smalzel. Her all-time favorite artists are Klimt, Botacelli, Da Vinci, Buonarotti and the Italian masters. “Too many to name,” she says.

This summer she plans to have a big show at the gallery, entitled Rust. “I will still have paintings on windows, wood and salvaged metal, but Rust will focus primarily on antique auto parts. I’ve been painting on old car door windows for about three years, but I’ll also have pieces on rusty, antique car hoods, fenders, tire rims and windshields. I’ve worked really hard this year to come up with something fun and interesting and unique and I’m very excited about this show.”

The Art and Salvage Gallery is located at 121 North F Street and her web address is