My creative inspirations are many and varied, but they all harken back to my paternal grandmother, Josefina Ramos. During the 1960s, throughout my early childhood, I drew animals and images of nature with her.
In the process, I learned about the wonders of our otherwise lost Mexican family history, the abundant flowers and plants that grew in the backyard of her Venice, California bungalow home, and the potential for kindness that was otherwise so absent in the human interactions of those times. Above all, I learned from my grandma the inspiration to dream, and to understand the power of art to heal, to inform, and to unite.
These were compelling attributes for my young conscience, which was rocked by an ugly divorce between my parents, and the violent divisions inspired by racial conflict and the Vietnam War. For all the years since those informative experiences, I have turned to art as an essential aspect of my personal expression and healing, a reflection of my core passions and values, and a vehicle for contributing to a better way forward for humanity and the planet.
In my teens, I turned to mural painting as a means of building on the journey I began in the backyard of my grandma Josefina’s Southern California home. I studied the work and ideas of the great Mexican muralists of the early 20th century and I learned the art of mural making from the Mexican painter Carlos Bueno, one of the co-founders of East Los Angeles-based Self-Help Graphics art center.
In subsequent years, I traveled to and lived in New York and Europe; and I visited the major artistic temples of each to see first-hand and learn about the great artists of modern western civilization. I met and married my beautiful German wife, Claudia Lenschen, and we found our way to Berlin immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
At the Berlin Wall, I studied the political graffiti that adorned its vast expanse. The Germans called it Mauer Kunst. The vibrancy of those images, their reflections of the most essential human instincts for free and honest expression, and their profound historical imprint left a lasting impression on me. I associated naturally with the significance and symbolisms of Berlin owing to my own evolved commitment to bringing down the walls that perennially divide humans and societies along lines of race, gender, class, nationality, and ideology.
Over the following years, I developed a New York-based consultancy called Mauer Kunst that was committed to cultural bridge-building work, and I supported a wide range of related social and creative investment projects. This work spawned significant partnerships with important new friends, including people like Guadalupe Rivera Marín, daughter of the world-renowned Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and Ann R. Roberts, daughter of former United States Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller.
In parallel with these relationships, I engaged in a range of productive and informative travels to Mexico City, San Antonio and Houston, TX, Philadelphia, PA and the San Francisco Bay Area, where I engaged with the leadership of organizations ranging from the Diego Rivera Foundation and Arte Público Press to Mural Arts Philadelphia and the Mexican Museum of San Francisco. Throughout each of these episodes in my journey, I maintained a steady practice of producing my own original paintings and collage works, drawings, sketchbooks, and photographic records.
In the early 2000s, I affiliated with the Gallery of Graphic Arts (GoGA) in New York City, a small upper Eastside operation that specializes in showing fine arts paintings, prints, and textile works. As a member of the GoGA Group—a gallery-affiliated association of local visual artists, I participated in both individual and group shows, presenting and selling selections from my body of small to mid-sized works produced over prior years. My early GoGA works mainly ended up in the hands of private collectors across Manhattan, as well as at a few important area institutions including the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and Mt. Sinai Hospital.
In 2008, my wife Claudia and I moved to the California Central Coast, where we bought and lived on a beautiful ten-acre ranch in the chaparral surrounding the little town of Santa Margarita. We raised a small herd of sheep and goats, and we also accumulated a flock of chickens and adopted three wonderful rescue dogs and three stray cats–all of which became a central part of our journey.
Living in nature, under the canopy of explosive, star-filled nights filled me up with new creative energy and ideas. I began to paint more prolifically, and I quickly affiliated with Paso Robles, CA-based Studios on the Park, a regional art center and artists’ community founded by the painter Anne Laddon and her daughter Sasha Irving. I sold original collage paintings there, led a series of high-profile youth arts projects, and curated numerous exhibits featuring the art of incarcerated people, as well as immigrant and women artists, across California. I was also featured in a series of public art talks and radio interviews that focused on topical content covering allied themes.
Over the years, my artistic creations have shown at venues including ARCO Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn, Germany, ABC Gallerie in Berlin, Anarte Gallery in San Antonio, and the headquarters offices of Rockefeller Brothers Fund in New York.
My works have been presented in exhibitions that speak to essential themes and assertions inhabiting my own internal world of visual, political, and spiritual inclinations: “The Color and Texture of Dreams”; “Le Cœur Pourrait se Régénèrer” (It’s Possible the Heart Can Regenerate Itself); “Stop it, You’re Killing Me!” (An urgent examination of human and environmental degradation); “Migration to the Enchanted Garden”; and “Joie de Vivre” (Joy of Living)…
Examples reflecting all of the experiences, projects, and works that I have recounted here appear in various places on this website. They speak to my multiplicitous and abiding commitment to the essential relationships between humanity, culture, nature, and the Common Good.
I hope you enjoy what you find here and I welcome your comments and questions in any case. Please refer them to me using the Contact page on this site.