Pay It Forward: Art Exhibition

Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar

Exhibition Essay

"The "Pay It Forward" art exhibition is an inspiring look at a remarkable mentor/mentee relationship initiated in 1991, when Gabriel Navar enrolled in Mel Ramos's "Painting 1" course at California State University, East Bay. Additionally, the show provides insight into the California School's stylistic legacy: a continuum from one generation to the next, charting an art historical trajectory marked by the four great sequoias of Bay-Area painting: Richard Diebenkorn, Wayne Thiebaud, Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar. Thereby acknowledging "a" generous artistic inheritance genially passed down from Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) to Wayne Thiebaud, and then from Thiebaud to Ramos, and manifesting in the 21st Century in Navar's oeuvre." - excerpt from exhibition essay by Dr. José Rodeiro... Read More ...


The expression "Pay It Forward" (prior to the 2000 blockbuster film-same title) is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done to others instead. From the Bay Area Figurative Movement to the Pop Art culture, we witness in this generation, a "paternal pride" in a Bay Area artists' movement through a "generalized reciprocal act" of art and education for the next generation. - Eric Murphy.

Curated by Eric Murphy and Woody Johnson

The "Pay It Forward: Mel Ramos & Gabriel Navar" exhibition featured the provocative work of Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar at Joyce Gordon Gallery located at 406 14th St, Oakland, California 94607. The Opening and Artist Talk took place on Friday, June 1st, 2012. A second reception and poetry recital took place on Thursday, July 5th, 2012. The exhibition ran through July 28, 2012.

Images from the June 1st Opening Reception

Images from the June 2012 Art Reception in Oakland with Mel Ramos and Gabriel Navar"Artist Mel Ramos hunched over a drafting table in his home studio in the Oakland hills on a recent afternoon, working on a sketch of a voluptuous naked woman lounging atop a giant cigar. He was smoking one himself -- standard studio procedure as he paints, draws, talks."

Curator's Statement

This exhibition explores the inherited pop art iconography of Ramos' single subject narratives with its passively gradated color backdrops leaving no evidence that brush strokes took play in this painterly act. In his 21st century pop art version to his prodecessor/mentor, Navar makes reference to the here and now of American consumerism in pop culture topped with an extra scoop of a 3-D like layering of acrylic on paper/board contrary to Ramos' coveted fantasy world on a smooth velvet surface; almost giving Navar's viewers the sense of what's real.

Painting Galleries

Visit my Painting Galleries: navar 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 galleries, grouped, chronologically (the earliest from 1993 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, muppets from Sesame Street, the Mexican Loteria, and Art History Homages.