Painting on the radio is like fish on bicycles, except if you are POCHO amigo Ramiro Gomez, Jr., whose artistic mission is to represent the usually invisible immigrant laborers who keep America running.
We’ve been celebrating the artwork of SoCal’s Ramiro Gomez, Jr. since 2012 and we’re thrilled he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves. Just this week he was named one of OUT magazine’s OUT100 (photo), and The Atlantic featured him in a video:
Los Angeles artist Ramiro Gomez, Jr. first captured our attention when he began placing carboard cutouts of immigrant laborers in front of fancy mansions in Beverly Hills. Why? He wanted to celebrate the workers who are usually invisible by making them visible for all to see.
Gomez subsequently began creating cutouts memorializing immigrants who died on their journey to El Norte, and installed these new figures in the Sonoran desert on the border with Mexico.
Gomez and his partner David Feldman documented the project in Los Olivados — The Forgotten. Their documentary — which has been playing the film festival circuit for a year — is now online for the first time.
Here’s what they wrote on YouTube:
PREVIOUSLY ON RAMIRO GOES TO THE OSCARS:
Our amigo artist Ramiro Gomez writes:
For the many who were not thanked Sunday night, for those that help keep the Hollywood engine running steadily, behind the scenes: Congratulations!
[10 x 12 in. Acrylic on magazine advertisement. 2015.]
[Editor’s Note: Ramiro names all his subjects. For best performance using a leafblower…*drum roll*….AURELIO!]
We first met West Hollywood artist Ramiro Gomez when he began placing his hand-painted cardboard figures of immigrant laborers in prominent public spaces in Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Hollywood.
Even as his audience has expanded via out-of-town art exhibits and a documentary film, he still plants cutout cardboard workers in places where their real-life counterparts have been before. Gomez’ aim? To make workers who are normally INVISIBLE become visible to passersby who look away or look but never see.
This gardener with a hose popped up Wednesday just before sunset in Beverly Hills near that famous hotel. Like all Gomez’ creations, he has a name. Meet Sergio.
POCHO amigo Ramiro Gomez, a SoCal guerrilla artist who we first met when he started placing cardboard cut-outs of previously-invisible immigrant workers around Beverly Hills and Hollywood, now has his work in art museums (as well as in the homes of private art collectors.)
Recently, he visited to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) where he saw more immigrant laborers toiling tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the museum clean and tidy.
Gomez snapped some photos of the museum custodians and then painted their images onto postcards from the LACMA gift shop, like this postcard of the Urban Light sculpture/assemblage.
He described the image this way on Facebook:
I am greatly inspired by the way The Impressionists saw a scene, and by the Social Realists who wanted to draw attention to the everyday conditions of the working class. The figures I paint are my impressions of people I’ve seen working. In places like LACMA, the art on the walls is not what captures my full attention, but rather, my eye is also drawn to the people walking around maintaining the space. If there is anything I’ve learned from art history, is that my job as an artist is to capture what life is like in my time period, and scenes like this, I feel, best represent what I see. [Custodians near Urban Light, LACMA 4″ x 6″ acrylic on postcard]
Can you match the laborers on the postcards with the janitors in the photos?
Artist Ramiro Gomez — whose work aims to make visible the usually-invisible immigrant laborers who keep Los Angeles running — writes:
Painting directly on the magazine is therapeutic for me to express the brief moments in life I see at the end of a long work day in private households.
I ask myself many questions without answers, and let myself feel the weight of what I see. There is definitely anger at the purposeful omission of those who maintain the luxury being sold in the magazine, but an angry protest will only receive an angry response.
I am whispering. Sometimes a quiet image can be louder than words.
Here’s the full version of Silvia waiting for her check (9″ x 11″ acrylic on magazine — click to enlarge):
My newest piece is in front of a home in Bel-Air. I drove around for a while looking for a place that felt right. At first I placed them in front of the Hotel Bel-Air (see below) but the sun was setting fast and it didn’t feel right, so I continued driving down the street and found this house. As I approached this home on Strada Corta Rd. near the Bel-Air Country Club, I was immediately drawn to the colorful spring flowers, the sun shining at the right spot and my instinct was to place them here.
If you could mention that my UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center show “Luxury, Interrupted” closes April 8th I would really appreciate it.
This just in from our friend, installation artist Ramiro Gomez Jr., who is in Washington, D.C.
It looks like an immigrant family was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue today, on the outside looking in.
Even the Washington Post paid attention.
Here’s the full-sized photo — click to enlarge:
Ramiro J. Gomez is a West Hollywood installation artist who makes and places cardboard avatars of immigrant laborers around Southern California’s richer neighborhoods; his mission is to make normally invisible people visible, if just for a short time.
Monday around 4:30 Gomez was busy populating the cardboard labor force on Beverly Hills‘ famed shopping street, Rodeo Drive, where it’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas — Beverly Hills style, that is. Weather? Sunny, with temperatures in the low to mid 60s ℉.
Here’s what he posted on Facebook:
Finished with the cardboard installation spree today. My heart inevitably was racing, especially when I placed the cutouts on busy Rodeo Dr. but that is the most liberating and rewarding aspect of my project, the ability to go in plain sight and creatively make a statement.
Eloisa is the elote seller, Rodrigo is the paletero, and Mayra is the woman with the balloons. Here’s the view from Gomez’ camera:
Installation artist and painter Ramiro “Jay” Gomez continues to populate the streets of Southern California with immigrant laborers painted on cardboard. His quest? To make visible the invisible people who keep L.A. — and Beverly Hills — running.
Here, in the artist’s photographs, is the life story of Ramiro’s newest creation, the guy who sells tourists Maps to the Stars Homes. Ramiro says his name is Antonio. He works his trade at the eastern edge of Beverly Hills, at Santa Monica Boulevard and Doheny, on the border with West Hollywood. Will he be there Thursday morning?
Does the woman with the stroller and the smartphone even know he’s there?
UPDATE: Ramiro Gomez on NPR: 6/29/2012: Click here.
West Hollywood artist Ramiro “Jay” Gomez Jr. – the guy who inserts cardboard paintings of immigrant laborers into the real landscape of Los Angeles – also paints them onto glossy magazine photos. Meet fresh uploads Nemesio at the end of his workday and Ofelia taking a break. Gomez’s Happy Hills blog is here.
Ramiro Gomez is an installation artist who makes the invisible visible by inserting cardboard versions of usually-overlooked Mexican laborers into actual settings. Last night he emailed:
Fresh piece I just installed this afternoon on the westbound corner of Mountain Drive and Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. If you’re driving around that part of town, stop by and check it out before it’s inevitably taken down.
Like Gomez wanted, POCHO stopped by the intersection the morning of Cinco de Mayo and shot this video. It reminded us of a Folgers Crystals instant coffee commercial: “We’ve secretly replaced your ordinarily-invisible immigrant gardener with a cardboard replica. Let’s see if anyone notices!” And we have photos from Gomez, below.
This POCHO ñewsweek is brought to you in living — and dying — color.
In the Southwest, New Mexico’s tourist board is casting a commercial to promote visits to the state. Who do they want to play the tourists in their commercial? “Caucasians and light-skinned Hispanics.”
And in the Southeast, Florida cowers in the Spotlight o’ Shame as the country asks why an unarmed teenager was killed by a self-styled neighborhood watch vigilante.
These are the stories that made the ñews this week:
Artist Ramiro Gomez, Jr. makes the invisible visible as he inserts cardboard images of hardworking Latinos into the landscape of Los Angeles and documents his installation art with photos. At half-past midnight he emailed POCHO:
I went up to Hollywood Blvd. this afternoon and put up my newest cardboard installation. It is on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Curson Ave. I went back tonight and it has not been taken down yet, hopefully, the location I chose allows it to ride for a while.
The big versions of Gomez’ photos are below.
Shoutout to Hollywood peeps: Is the paletero still there? Please share your updates in the Comments section below. Gracias!
“You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard, some that you recognise, some that you’ve hardly even heard of. People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame, some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain,” according to the Kinks.
But artist Ramiro Gomez Jr. — whose art installations make the invisible visible — will have none of that. That’s why, on Sunday, Oscar Day, on Hollywood Boulevard, he positioned an image of one of the ubiquitous but unacknowledged Latinos who survive on the fringes of “The Industry.” One of those dudes you see hanging out on corners selling tourists “Maps to the Stars’ Homes.”
A busy ñewsweek brought the return to glory of the original self-deportationist, Daniel D. Portado, who, it turns out, is a fictional character created by POCHO Jefe-in-Chief Lalo Alcaraz; an Alabama plan to import Canadians to replace the immigrant labor that used to keep the state running; and militant MEChA murmurings about the Lack of Visible Latinos in the hit BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey.
Other top stories included First Lady Michelle Obama’s partnership with Caribbean food conglomerate Goya and the astounding “installation art” of Ramiro Gomez, Jr. Here’s our big list:
Artist Ramiro Gomez, Jr. makes the invisible visible as he inserts paper images of hardworking Latinos into the landscape of Los Angeles — a gardener with a leaf blower, a housekeeper with a mop. There are many more images on his Happy Hills blog where he describes himself this way:
I live and work as a male nanny in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills. Happy Hills is my body of work documenting the predominantly hispanic workforce, who work tirelessly behind the scenes to present the beautiful images of the ideal Hollywood Hills homes.