Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Tracy Negrete

Cory Bilicko

In last week’s issue, I profiled Katie Phillips, who co-founded the Squeeze Art Collective in Long Beach. This week, I’m featuring Tracy Negrete– the other half of the founders of that group.

Tracy Negrete

Tracy Negrete

Tell me about how you got involved with Squeeze Art Collective and, in your own words, what it’s all about.
In 2011, I used to host a painting get-together with a couple friends in my studio apartment on 4th Street. We would paint, listen to music and socialize. An artist colleague of mine, David Hedden, introduced me to Katie Phillips. Katie, also an artist, shared the same vision and drive that I did about throwing art shows. Together our ideas snowballed, and before you knew it we had turned a tiny paint night into a full operating art collective. Squeeze is all about inspiring each other and providing a platform for local artists to create and share their artistic vision. Being artists ourselves, we know first-hand how difficult it is to get your art exposed, so we assist in building the relationship between the artist and local businesses. As a group we are passionate about servicing our community and incorporating sustainability in our art as much as possible– from using found objects to up-cycling materials.

"Dreaming," acrylic on canvas

“Dreaming,” acrylic on canvas

From which school did you earn an associate’s degree in graphic design, and how did your education in art affect your creative point of view and approach to art-making?
I received my associate’s degree from Brooks College in Long Beach. Graphic design opened up an entire new porthole for me artistically because everything was based on layers and a message. Graphically, you are conveying a message or story through pictures, and text is now becoming part of the design.

You seem to be really interested in creating public art. What is it about that art form that you find appealing?
I was given the opportunity to paint a couple of electrical boxes here in Long Beach on Daisy Street. The response from the neighbors alone was so rewarding. Usually I’m painting on canvas in my studio alone listening to music. When you create public art, you’re painting on a larger scale in the mix of the city; everything around you is alive. While I was painting the electrical boxes, the children would come by and ask questions, [and] adults would thank me for making their neighborhood look nice. I also really love the fact that public art is for everyone to enjoy, and it’s free. I strongly believe that public art can influence those around it– a child can look at a mural and be inspired, someone could be having a rough day and look up at a colorful mural and feel something from it– but that it just my opinion.

What would you say is your primary subject matter for your art, and why?
My primary subject matter for my art is nature, abstract shapes and animals. I enjoy painting flowing abstract shapes that almost have a sense of life to them, mixed in with beautiful animals and nature. I enjoy spending time outdoors. I think a lot of people lose touch with nature and get so wrapped up in their daily routine, especially in city life. I think it’s important to have a strong relationship with nature, so I like to reflect that in my art as a reminder.

To view more of Negrete’s work, visit squeezeart.com .

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