November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
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Ramos y Navar/Interview

Mel Ramos, left to right, Woody Johnson, Eric Murphy, and Gabriel Navar, in Ramos’ studio. Ramos is signing a print that will be on exhibit in the Ramos-Navar exhibition “Pay It Forward”, curated by Johnson & Murphy.

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When a student learns

Gabriel Navar Interviews mentor, Mel Ramos

Navar: When did you decide that you wanted to make art your life choice? What artists did you admire as a young artist that inspired you and contributed to your early style(s)? Who (specifically) inspired you most in your early years to become a painter? How did you first determine your initial, personal artistic direction?  

Ramos: I decided I wanted to be a painter when I was in high school after I heard  Wayne Thiebaud give a talk to high school seniors in my class about careers in art. My first big influence was Salvador Dalí, who I discovered when I was 14 after seeing his incredible technical virtuosity with the paintbrush. At first I was a proponent of Abstract Expressionism which was being taught in the art schools at the time. Eventually I realized this was a dead end for me so I decided to paint portraits of my favorite comic book heroes and heroines. The rest is Art History.

Gabe & Mel 1992

Gabe & Mel 1992

Navar: Why did you choose to become a teacher? Was there a specific individual (or individuals) that sparked your interest in teaching?

Ramos: When I decided to make art as a profession I realized I would need a day job to support my activity and knew that teaching art would be the best way to do this.

Navar: As a professor, what was the main thing (advice, message, set of values, etc.) that you wished to instill in your students?

Ramos: The importance of hard work, dedication and clear thinking.

Navar: As an artist working for the most part in California; does West coast painting signify a unique entity? In terms of the contemporary art world, what role does The California School of Painting play? Are “its” unique traditions and values still significant within the contemporary art world? And, why?

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Ramos: California does have a distinct identity but I don’t know why. 

Navar: Mel, I clearly recall being in your painting class, sitting in a class critique, and you stating something very positive about my work along the lines of, “Gabe, paint 10 more like these and you will have a great opportunity in the art world.” I took it to heart and have made it one of my main life challenges. I am still pursuing opportunities and am enjoying the journey and the challenges. A question here, Mel, if I may, what was it about my work habits, painting style, etc., as a student of yours over 20 years ago that caused you to see promise in my work and/or career?

Ramos: I was impressed by your PASSION to succeed.

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Editor’s Note:

The Pay It Forward exhibition is scheduled to take place in Oakland at:
JOYCE GORDON GALLERY
406  14th Street.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA
Curated by Eric Murphy and Woody Johnson
June 1- July 28, 2012
OPENING RECEPTION: June 1 (6:00 PM- 9:00 PM)
Contact:   Eric Murphy, 510-465-8928
 
For more about the exhibition, see:
http://old.ragazine.cc/2012/04/pay-it-forward/

1 comment

1 Pay It Forward | ragazine.cc { 05.27.12 at 6:34 pm }

[…] * * * JOYCE GORDON GALLERY 406  14th Street. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA Curated by Eric Murphy and Woody Johnson June 1- July 28, 2012OPENING RECEPTION: June 1 (6:00 PM- 9:00 PM) Contact:   Eric Murphy, 510-465-8928     Gabriel Navar interviews mentor Mel Ramos! […]