This Young Latino Creates Art Inspired By His Immigrant Parents
If you live in Los Angeles long enough, you’ll realize it’s a city of extremes. There are neighborhoods like Bel Air and Beverly Hills, where wealth and luxury is palpable. There’s also lots of ethnic enclaves where immigrants are in a balancing act to make ends meet.
L.A.-based artist Ramiro Gomez is attempting to bridge the gap between the two extremes.
— Ramiro Gomez Jr. (@RamiroGomezJr) August 16, 2015
At a young age, Gomez noticed that many Latino immigrants were working in L.A.’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Many of the immigrants were working as gardeners, house keepers and other jobs to keep L.A.’s upscale neighborhoods immaculate. It struck a nerve with Gomez.
As he grew older, Gomez, the child of Mexican immigrants, began creating art inspired by service workers.
Gomez is well-known for placing cardboard cutouts of service workers in the high-end neighborhoods where they usually work. Like this gardener…
CREDIT: Facebook/ Ramiro Gomez (Artist)
And these nannies.
Credit: David Feldman / YouTube
His idea is to highlight the humanity of people who are often seen as nothing but servants.
Credit: Michigan Humanites / YouTube
Gomez is aware that his methods are subtle, but he says it’s deliberate. He feels that being heavy-handed with his message may turn people off: “In my case, I’m almost like, I’m whispering… and letting them know what I feel and I think.”
Gomez knows the struggle service workers endure to make ends meet. His father is a truck driver and his mother works as a janitor.
Gomez also has first-hand experience in the service industry. He nannied in the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. While working as a nanny (artists have to pay the bills), Gomez spent lots of time driving around Los Angeles, which inspires lots of his work.
Gomez has also visited the border and placed cutouts to pay homage to people who risk their lives to give their children a better future.
He doesn’t just do cutouts, though. He also takes existing art and “remixes” it to add service workers.
Here, an ad for an expensive Diane Von Furstenberg dress was reworked to include the women who often work on garments.
In this painting, the 29-year-old artist takes his inspiration from famed English painter David Hockney.
While Hockney used vivid colors to convey the luxury lifestyles of the rich and the famous in Los Angeles, Gomez uses his brush strokes to highlight the cleaning pole of a pool cleaner.
Eventually, Hockney saw Gomez’s versions of his work. And Hockney loved it.
“He was excited to see these paintings in a different way,” Gomez said in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition about his meeting with Hockney. “He loved my choice of figures. He loved how I included the figures. He loved the color choices.”
In a Facebook photo he shared of the day he met Hockney in the flesh, Gomez said, “I did not get up this morning and think, ‘Today I’m going to meet and have lunch with David Hockney.’ But I did. The best things in life are unplanned. Along with a selfie to capture a moment I will always remember.'”
Last year, Gomez’s parents had a chance to see their son’s work in a gallery.
“On a personal level, it is because I have seen my parents’ tired bodies after a long day’s work that inspires me to create artwork that recognizes their labor,” wrote Gomez on Facebook. “They sacrifice so much for me and I just want to make them proud. I want to make their struggles worth it, and I am grateful to have the ability to do so.”
The son of humble immigrants was able to send his two parents on their first vacation — a trip to Las Vegas.
A collection of Gomez’s work has been compiled in a coffee table book, Domestic Scenes, which was written by New Yorker magazine writer Lawrence Weschler.