Vega Moves Gallery 18 to Eastwood Mall

By Precious Battee
NILES, Ohio – For decades, Monica Vega has been focused not just on growing her skills as an artist, but also on growing the brand of her studio, Gallery 18. And with a new space in the Eastwood Mall, she’s ready to take the next step.

“I want to take my brand high, because Gallery 18 is a brand. It’s not just me as an artist. Gallery 18 is a personal story, and it was purposeful,” said Vega. “I was a single and teenage mom, at 18 is where I changed my life.”

Vega relocated from her previous space in the Calvin Center on Mahoning Avenue. She has been an artist for 20 years, combining several genres, including graffiti writing, expressionism, semi-figurative, cubism, caricature and more. 

“I mix all of that together and it’s my signature style,” she told After Hours Youngstown last year. “It’s unique and original. You’ll not get another piece just like it. It’s not a print. It’s something you can pass down to your kids.”

Her paintings sell from $25 to $400 and she is available for commissions. With her smaller paintings she looks at them as designs. They are still considered art but with they take less time to create.

“The three main things I do is sell the art, painting sessions and offering the one room for artists,” Vega said. 

With this new space, Vega is able to show her paintings to a more diverse audience. Vega sees her brand growing with the work of producing more art and staying productive.

“When you’re making a product, you have to keep going. You can’t stop,” Vega said.

Vega is mainly excited about her bigger space. She and her husband decided to take this step to grow her career. With her new move she has more clients and customers, and they are diverse.

With more space now, Vega will also be offering painting classes, with sessions beginning at the end of August. She will be also offering an artist-in-residence program, letting professional artists rent a space to work on their pieces.

“I want to put some space to the side for artist so they can have a place to work and we call it artist-in-residence because it’s a gallery. I don’t want to have the space just opened for anybody,” said Vega. 

Not only does Vega focus on her brand, she likes helping others with theirs as well. She is always looking to mentor Black female artists. She wants to share her opportunities and knowledge of business with others as well.

Another thing Vega enjoys about her bigger location is that she can hang more art, giving passers-by a chance to see her wide range of works. Vega’s art focuses on diversity, she explains, which allows potential buyers to better connect with her work.

“I make sure people of color are represented well. Because I don’t feel like the art world is still not integrated especially here, you have to go to big cities,” said Vega. 

Gallery 18 is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Eastwood mall, next to J.C. Penney.

This story is part of our Minority Entrepreneurship Week. Read about our diversity, equity and inclusion platform HERE.

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