* Jack A. Vargas; Internationally Known Artist

Jack A. Vargas--an internationally exhibited artist and brother of Marcos Vargas, the executive director of El Concilio del Condado de Ventura--died Thursday of an AIDS-related illness. He was 42.

Born and raised in Santa Paula, Jack Vargas received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Cal State Long Beach, a bachelor’s degree from Otis Art Institute in Fine Arts and a master’s degree in library science from UCLA. Since 1985, he had worked as an arts librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library.

From an early age, family members said, Vargas found self-expression through art. He used painting, video and film to explore Chicano issues. But the focus of much of his work, brother Roberto Vargas said, was beauty.


“It was like, the Earth needs healing, and part of the healing is to recognize its beauty,” he said.

Jack Vargas’ work was displayed in exhibits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the University of Illinois and the Academy of Arts in Liverpool, England.

Marcos Vargas said that his brother was also active in his community and church. At the library, Jack Vargas gave presentations on diversity and homophobia. “As a gay man, he was very active about raising people’s consciousness,” Marcos Vargas said.

He also is survived by his mother, Tita Vargas, brother Art Vargas, sister-in-law Rebeca Mendoza, nieces Andrea and Cheli, nephew Canek Vargas and companion John Butler.

The memorial service at Pierce Brothers Stetler Mortuary in Santa Paula will begin Saturday at 4 p.m.