I am a professional California artist, poet and college arts educator from the San Francisco Bay Area. I am fully engaged in my work and dedicated to producing provocative, relevant, figurative work with a "pop-Latino-surrealist-socio-political sensibility", as well as with a "web-based awareness". My image-making through words, lines, textures and colors are truly all about the "urgency" for making images (as well as a passion for and working with art materials), and, thematically and philosophically-speaking, about this great and often absurd human theatre we are currently living !
Lithograph, signed in pencil
31 x 27 in © 1972 Mel Ramos
Gregorio Escalante Gallery is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition The Power of Pop, featuring work by Mel Ramos, John Waguespack, and Gabriel Navar, co-curated by Eric Murphy. The trio of artists each confront popular culture through commercial appropriation and satire, spanning decades of rich cultural history that originate from archetypal pop art ideologies.
Presenting a new challenge to traditional fine art in the postwar world, Pop Art was an era that spawned numerous well known artists that continue to influence contemporary art today. Mel Ramos is hailed as one of the early pioneers of Pop Art in America, exhibiting with contemporaries that include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Wayne Thiebaud to name a few. His work celebrates aspects of popular culture as represented in mass media through his depictions of superheroes and the female nude emerging from candy wrappers, Chiquita bananas, and lounging in martini glasses. His hyper-realistic figurative renderings and bold swaths of color converge to create pivotal commentaries of mass culture, advertising, and mundane cultural objects typically elevated to a crucial status. Ramos’ crucial role in art history has influenced numerous painters over the last five decades, including fellow artists in The Power of Pop.
For over twenty years, image-making for me has been a passion and avenue for exploring experiences, dreams and preoccupations, including issues of our dependence on technology, consumer culture, relationships, spirituality, politics, and the human "theatre". The paintings are arranged into different Art Galleries, grouped, chronologically (the earliest from 1989 and spanning into the present) and "themes", especially when I find myself working in a series of paintings inspired from my life experiences, memories, nostalgia and personal interest, for example multi-generational, cross-cultural, popular consumer-based iconography and imagery, such as Chespirito, the Morton Salt Girl, the Mexican Loteria, Sesame Street and Art History Homages.
Periodically a painting is selected as a Featured Painting in order to provide a brief description about it's creation process as well as its narrative. A total of 19 paintings make up the previous featured painting gallery. The current featured painting gallery consists of a trio of paintings where the individuals see their worlds through "misplaced", "symbolic" eyes.
The creative process consists of an initial idea beginning with a rough drawing, increasing layerings, through the technical processes culminating in the finished artwork. Take a look at three paintings that are included in the Progress of a Painting Gallery.
I have always enjoyed making images not only through drawing and painting but also through poetry. I have been writing in a sort of "stream of consciousness", "automatic writing" approach for many, many years. It was not until the late 1980s, early 1990s, however, that I started to write seriously and began organizing my poems into notebooks.
The Poems: Part I, Part II and Part III included here are a representation of what I have been writing over the years. Included are the poems which served as the inspiration for Paul Basler to write Cantos Alegres, Divine Days and Embrace Creation.
I have been invited to participate on Various Projects, exhibitions and collaborations including commissions with private individuals who contact me to create artwork in the form of murals, street banners for public viewing, publications and performances.
I am fortunate that noted poet and playwright, Cherrie Moraga, purchased a small painting of mine from a MACLA exhibition that I participated in San Jose, California. The painting was used for Moraga's cover of her book titled "Heroes and Saints & Other Plays" published by West End Press. Other publishing opportunities include , the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon and Casiopea Magazine. I was also commissioned to create the artwork for the San Jose International Mariachi Festival & Conference and my image was used as part of their marketing in the form of mugs, t-shirts and posters.
I am an active, exhibiting artist. I mainly show in the San Francisco Bay Area but have been very fortunate to show my paintings and poetry in California as well as other states such as New York, Florida, Washington, Texas, Tennessee, and New Mexico, to name a few. I have also shown my artwork and poetry outside the country in Mexico, Germany for example. Information about recent exhibitions (past, current and future ones) are mentioned in the Exhibits Page. I am currently part of an ongoing socio-political exhibition that began in the Spring of 2012 in New York City titled "We Are You International Traveling Show". It will tour for 6 years within the United States, Europe and Latin America. I am also part of an International Art Show for Peace titled "Losing Count - Cuentas Perdidas" curated by San Francisco/Bay Area-Based Artist and Curator Luis Pinedo. I want to mention that I am involved in a collective of visual artists titled Duende Art; this is an ongoing project where we exhibit our work together in various venues.