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Ramon Rodriguez

Ramon Rodriguez – 236 Loma Avenue

Artist Statement:

I have a profound desire to understand and explore the nature of duality. I was born in a tiny isolated village in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I have had the unique experience of growing up in one of the poorest countries in Latin America and living in one of the wealthiest in the world for the last thirteen years. My last decade in Long Beach, California has been a sharp contrast to my life in the countryside of Bolivia. I have always been interested in dualities and this contrast of cultures has only expanded my interest.

Love and hate. Good and bad. Light and dark. Abundance and scarcity. Suffering and pleasure. Spiritual and material. Philosophical and theological. These perpetual dualities and struggles coexist within each of us. In my journey as an artist, I attempt to harmonize these dualities, to create a dialog between extremes.

In the process of exploring duality, I also try to capture the magic and beauty of the culture of my ancestors, the Incas. Through my work, I not only express that which compels me, I nourish myself with the energy of the landscapes, the power of the culture, the wisdom and determination of my ancestors.

I remember as a 3 year old, gathering stones of different colors and drawing on rocks or adobe walls. I drew in the sand at the river’s edge with a stick. I arranged twigs, leaves, and other curiosities I found on my long walks through the countryside. I climbed luscious trees and cliffs of red and orange hues observing the divine art of Pacha Mama, Mother Earth. I could not resist. My childhood was spent climbing trees, collecting stones, and being shaped by the beauty of the Bolivian landscape.

As a teenager I attended pre-seminary and went on to seminary, however, I discovered that my true calling to divinity was not through priesthood but rather, through art. I continued making art. This is not an easy path in Bolivia. A common response to my being an artist was, ‘Lo siento,” “I’m sorry.” This has not deterred me. Creating for me is as necessary as breathing….perhaps even more important.

Inhaling the aroma of cedar and mahogany stretchers in my workshop reminds me of my life in the campo, the countryside. The germination of an idea takes place as I prepare my canvas. It is my ritual. I need to know the canvas, I let the idea evolve as I create the space where it transforms itself into existence.

I prepare the canvas with a layer of earth tone paint. Although this basecoat is rarely seen it is the foundation for all the other hues which will reveal themselves in the layers of ideas, colors, and emotions. Only when the canvas is ready do I, with my palette knife, begin to breathe life into a painting.

I am compelled to share my culture and my work with others. I feel the responsibility to contribute to my community in positive ways. I am passionate about sharing creativity, and especially, helping others develop and realize their own infinite creative capacity. I have worked with children, differently abled people, the elderly, and many other diverse groups. For having received the gift of creativity, I must share it. Creating is, after all, living.

Over the years, I have given numerous presentations and hosted many groups in my studio to share my work and how I do it. This fuels my creativity. Collaboration is like mixing colors, you create another hue, another dimension, another experience, another dream.

I yearn for my dreams to be realized through the scraping of my palette knife across my canvas, through the striking of my chisel upon the stone, through the notes of the ancient instruments I play, and through the words of Quechua, the ancient language I speak.

Artist Biography:

Ramón was born and raised deep in the Bolivian Andes. His youth was spent farming, tending animals and developing a profound reverence for nature and Bolivian culture. At age 15 he went to boarding school and continued on to seminary. Shortly after seminary he attended Raul G. Prada Fine Arts School in Cochabamba, Bolivia and graduated with a major in Sculpture.

His first year after art school, he won the national grand prize for his sculpture “Christos Rotos” and continued to garner national awards for painting, sculpture and watercolor. Ramón was selected to be the first Artist in Residence at the American Embassy in La Paz, Bolivia. His work is held in museum collections in Bolivia and has had solo and group shows in galleries throughout Bolivia.

In the U.S. he has paintings and sculpture in the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) collection in Long Beach, California. He has participated in numerous group shows at the museum. MoLAA is the largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to Latin American Art. He has participated in shows at the Long Beach Museum of Art.

Ramón has also shown his work at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Palos Verdes Art Center, San Diego Art Institute, Blue Rain Gallery in Taos and Santa Fe, PezGordo Gallery in Cabo San Lucas. He has had solo shows at Viento y Agua Gallery, Gallery 33, 2nd City Council Gallery and Gallery AD+D in Long Beach. His work has been featured in Long Beach Magazine, Destinations Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and a piece appeared in Arte al Dia: International Art Magazine. He has been awarded two Professional Artist Fellowships by the Arts Council for Long Beach.

In 2012 the Los Angeles Arboretum invited 100 artists to participate in a show with work made from the trees that were destroyed or damaged during the windstorm of 2011. Ramon participated in the show that garnered worldwide attention and awards.

Ramón was commissioned by the Cesar Chavez Foundation, KaBoom! and Maria Shriver to create a mural celebrating the life of Cesar Chavez. He designed and painted it with Maria Shriver, Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, and the Chavez family. The mural was replicated in 30 additional sites throughout California. Ramón has donated over $100k of his work in the last decade for fundraising purposes to causes and organizations he supports.

Ramón lives in Long Beach, California with his wife and two sons. He plays folk music on traditional Bolivian folkloric instruments. The family has played at California State University, the Los Angeles Arboretum, the Museum of Latin American Art, Peace Corps cultural celebrations, and numerous schools, churches and nonprofit organizations. Ramon is actively involved in his community sharing his talent, art, music and culture.

Resume and Exhibition History:

Education

Raul G. Prada Escuela Superior de Artes Plásticas (School of Fine Arts), Cochabamba, Bolivia, February 1990 – November 1993 B.A. Fine arts, major in sculpture, minor in painting

Distinctions

Certificate of Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Art Exhibition, State of California, February 2014

Long Beach Musuem of Art, Auction 2011 Group Show, April-May 2011; Long Beach, California

Museum of Latin American Art, Sculpture Garden Exhibit, January 2006-June 2009; Long Beach, California

Commissioned by Maria Shriver and KaBoom! to design mural honoring Cesar Chavez (mural replicated in 30 locations in CA; January 2008; Los Angeles, California

Museum of Latin American Art, Juried Competition (selection field of 4,000 Latin American artists living worldwide); September 2006; Long Beach, California

City of Los Angeles Permanent Art Collection, Painting presented to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa honoring his service to Los Angeles and underserved youth; August 2006; Los Angeles, California

Professional Artist Fellowship, Public Corporation for the Arts September 2005; Long Beach, California

Artist in Residence, American Embassy January 2002; La Paz, Bolivia

National Third Prize in Watercolor, Municipal Fine Arts Gallery La Casona 2001; Cochabamba, Bolivia

National Honorable Mention in Watercolor, Municipal Gallery Gildaro Antezana 2000; Cochabamba, Bolivia

National First Prize in Painting, Municipal Gallery Gildaro Antezana 1999; Cochabamba, Bolivia

National First Prize in Sculpture, Municipal Gallery Gildaro Antezana 1997; Cochabamba, Bolivia

National Honorable Mention in Sculpture, National Gallery de Pedro Domingo Murrillo; 1996; La Paz, Bolivia

National Honorable Mention in Sculpture, Municipal Gallery Gildaro Antezana 1996; Cochabamba, Bolivia

National Grand Prize in Sculpture, Municipal Gallery Gildaro Antezana 1994; Cochabamba, Bolivia

Selected Shows and Events

Patrick Henry K-8 School, Long Beach Unified School District, CA Mural designed and painted with students; May-June 2015

Croatian Cultural Center of Greater Los Angeles, Solo Show, Artist in Residence Show, San Pedro, CA; September 2014

Cultural Alliance Long Beach, Solo Show, Long Beach, CA; July 2014

Long Beach Museum of Art, Group Show, Long Beach, CA April-May 2011

Bowers Museum of Cultural Arts, Group Show, Santa Ana, California November 2010

2nd City Council Art Gallery, Solo Show, Long Beach, California May-June 2010

Pez Gordo Gallery, Group Show, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico September 2006 through present

Blue Rain Gallery, Group Show, Santa Fe, New Mexico October–November 2006

Museum of Latin American Art, Invitation Only Group Show, Long Beach, California September-October 2007

San Diego Art Institute, Group show, San Diego, California October 2006

Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, California April 2005, Paintings, Sculpture, Lecture, Bolivian Music & Dance and Painting

Palos Verdes Art Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, California January 2005, Paintings, Sculpture, Lecture, Bolivian Music & Dance

Pasadena Museum of California Art, Group Show, Pasadena, California July 2003, Sculpture and Painting

Long Beach Convention Center, Group Show, Long Beach, California June 2004, Painting and Bolivian Folkloric Music

Museum of Latin American Art Docents, Long Beach, California April 2004, Paintings, Sculpture, Music and Bolivian Culture

Museum of Latin American Art, Group Show, Long Beach, California March 2003, Watercolors

Professional Associations

CALB, Founding member-present

Tukuypaj, 2004-present Founding member of musical group presenting folkloric Bolivian music & dance

Bolivian Fine Artists Association, 1994 – present A consortium of Bolivian artists promoting art and culture in Bolivia

VisiónArte, 1998 – 2001, Founding Member Bolivian artists promoting art in rural and disadvantaged communities

Selected Publications

Palacio Magazine, Feature Article, May 2015

Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden Magazine, Summer Fall 2012

LBPost.com, Feature Article, December 2013

LBPost.com, Feature Article, May 2011

Gallery News, Feature article, August 2006

Long Beach Magazine, Feature article, May 2006

Long Beach Press-Telegram, El Económico, Feature article, September 2003

Arte Al Día International Latin American Fine Art Magazine, February/March 2003, Work appeared in promotional ad for Museum of Latin American Art

Museum of Latin American Auction Catalog, Featured watercolors

Los Tiempos, numerous citations in Bolivian national newspaper, 1995 to 2003

Natures Cloak: Pure and Mysterious, by Ramón Rodriguez, autobiographical brochure