Wet paint brushes lie on the floor next to sketches that inspired the canvas above them. Local artist Joe Pagac stands focused as he adds to his nearly blank canvas of a sugar skull he is recreating for a client. With each stroke of his brush, the painting comes alive and the bright colors beam off the portrait.
“I really like doing figurative paintings and people dressed up in weird, surreal costumes,” Pagac said. “But the nature of being an artist has forced me to paint what other people want a lot of the time, but I really use that as a chance to learn about different styles and expand my own skill sets.”
Pagac has always been an artist, but his drive to pursue art as a profession took place in a UA Drawing 101 class. His art teacher was so impressed with his work that she told him he should strive for a career as an artist. He then switched his major and his journey into the art scene began.
Pagac’s art career has given him a number of opportunities to travel the world. He has traveled to places like Europe and Asia to paint and get inspired artistically.
In the last couple of years, he has painted artwork for the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, MGM Grand and Buffalo Exchange in Las Vegas, and Los Angeles International Airport.
Based in Tucson, Pagac has murals distributed all around the Downtown area. He is most known for his mural on the side of the Rialto Theatre. He has smaller pieces inside of Maynards Market and Kitchen, Hotel Congress and other murals around the city.
“I like to paint big because it’s active,” Pagac said. “I’m a very social person so it’s nice to be out, moving around, and when I’m doing murals I’m in a different place every week and meeting new people.”
Pagac also specializes in canvas work. Most of his canvas work consists of people dressed up in costume or recreations of photos he has taken from traveling.
He recently painted a series of canvas work from a 40-day bike trip he took with his fiancé in the fall. He traveled to Southeast Asia for a year and did a series of portraits in gold metallic paint of the native people.
House paint is Pagac’s preferred type of paint. He swears it works the exact same as other high-end paint but is a fraction of the cost.
He started this money-saving technique years ago and will continue to use it as his career goes on.
He recently participated in a live painting event at the Rialto Theatre where he painted canvases by mixing silicon and glitter. Each piece got auctioned off for charity and helped the cause.
Examples of his work, including murals, canvas work and fabrication work, can be found on Pagac’s website at www.joepagac.net.
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