Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Alejandra Vernon

“Liddy,” mixed-media collage

“Liddy,” mixed-media collage

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor

Long Beach is losing one of its great artists. In fact, this particular individual was the very first subject of this now weekly column, back in early March of 2011. Alejandra Vernon, who has created almost countless numbers of her colorful, intricate mixed-media collages over the years, is leaving Southern California to begin a new chapter in Central America.

“I’m moving to Granada, an historic town in Nicaragua, about 40 miles south of Managua, and by a vast lake,” she said. “I always need to be by water!” Vernon said she has liked living here since 2000, but she has recently felt compelled to move on.

“The move is based on many things,” she said. “The need for a simpler life– not having to drive, for instance [because] it’s a walkable town– and most of all, an urgent psychic feeling that this is no longer where I should be. I’ve enjoyed my 14 years in Long Beach, but change is sometimes a necessary thing. I’m sure the change will prompt a resurgence of creativity. Perhaps along different lines, even different media, but the pieces will always be uniquely ‘me.’”

Vernon said she chose Granada because it has a “sizable expat community” and because the visual beauty of it, particularly that of the colors, is breathtaking.
“I’ll be going with my cat Frankie, who is always wonderful company,” she said. “And I’m sure I’ll get to know people easily in the laid-back atmosphere.”

“Jazz,” mixed-media collage

“Jazz,” mixed-media collage

What is your definition of “artist?”
Someone with a unique vision. It might not be a vision appreciated in their lifetime; some artists are ahead of their time!

How has the art scene in Long Beach changed from when you first moved here?
The arts, I think, have suffered across the country as so many people– including the artists– are struggling with issues like paying rent.

Fill in the blank with as many words as you like: Alejandra Vernon is _______.
I guess my most salient trait is courage. I’ve never let fear stop me. I always follow my instincts, and they have served me well.

How has being an artist been beneficial in your life?

Art is all I have really known. I did quit for eight years in the ‘80s and worked in discount retail. The “dog eat dog” aspect of it strengthened me and made better equipped for the business side of art.

“Paris,” mixed-media collage

“Paris,” mixed-media collage

What has been the most difficult part of being an artist?
Probably creating work for a specific show/theme, and on a short time frame, and when the theme isn’t something I would normally do. Although this can occasionally lead to surprising results and growth.

How do you see yourself spending your time in the next five years or so?

In the reverse of the last question, I hope to just create what appeals to me and not have any deadlines. This has been a dream of mine since the beginning of it all. It will be most fulfilling!

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