A Faster Hallelujah: Carlos Ramirez on the Coachella Valley, A Sense of Duty and John Lennon
When the duo of Carlos Ramirez and the Date Farmers sprung onto the contemporary art scene in the mid-2000s, they brought the warmth and freshness of their Coachella Valley homes. Two young men from a California desert region known for date palms and citrus, reassembled found objects and classic iconography with earthy, vibrant originality. Now working solo, Ramirez still presents work in this vein, insightful, playful and at times, in political reinterpretations of the classic "Americana" lexicon. On Saturday, April 4th, Thinkspace Projects introduces A Faster Hallelujah, a new body of work by Ramirez that will be presented as a special live stream on Instagram and Facebook from 5-7pm PST. Ahead of the opening, the Thinkspace crew sat down with Ramirez to learn about his background, his 8th grade teacher and eating THC edibles with John Lennon. —Evan Pricco
Sour Harvest: For those unfamiliar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background and how you came to meet our curator and co-owner Andrew Hosner?
Carlos Ramirez: Initially, before working and coming to Los Angeles, I lived and worked in the Coachella valley. It’s where I was born and raised and became a self-taught artist. I eventually ventured out and began working with galleries in Los Angeles, like New Image Art and Ace Gallery, Jonathan Levine Projects in New York, and a few in London, like Pow.
I believe the first time I met Andrew was around 2005. We eventually worked together, when I took part in an exhibition at Thinkspace Gallery titled New Blood in 2012, curated by Morgan Spurlock.
What motivated this latest body of work?
The inspiration for my latest work I think is compelled by an internal and personal dialogue or discussion that I think most of us are having around this social and political climate. The American fabric seems to be fraying apart by its own doing. America finds itself forced into drawing social and even racial lines in some unfortunate cases, and those lines become more defined the longer it goes on.
I have a sense of duty as an artist, and for me to not say or question anything – for me that would be almost sinful.
Who are some of your creative influences?
There are so many it’s hard to narrow down, but some of my earliest influences were from people I didn’t even know. Early influences came through prison letters sent to family members containing some of the most amazing art I had ever seen. Then later on in life, artists like Francisco Toledo to Ai Weiwei … there are just too many.
Did you have an art mentor at the beginning of your career?
Unfortunately, besides my 8th grade art teacher, not really, unless you can consider the hood mixed with a little reality as a mentor.
What do you like best and about the creative process?
My favorite part of the creative process would have to be the learning experiences and the journey’s they’ve created. Not that it’s bad, but my least would have to be staying disciplined and approaching it like an 8 to 5 job.
Is there a particular piece in this exhibition that really challenged you?
Yes, there are a couple but there’s a particular smaller piece that kind of tested me emotionally, Your Hood. For some reason, that piece kept pissing me off. I think the fact that the subject matter is still relevant in 2020 just blows my mind.
If you could make an album cover for any musical artist, who would it be?
I’ve already worked with some awesome people in the music industry like Primus, Joe Jonas, Brant Bjork formerly of Kyuss, John Garcia, and a few others, but I think even though he’s no longer with us, and if I had a choice, it would be Gil Scott-Heron.
If you could download any skill into your brain, Matrix-style, what would you want to instantly learn?
Where is the power source?
Would you rather be able to talk to animals or read people’s minds?
Even though it might be a lil scary to know what animals think of us, I’d have to always go with the animals.
If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would they be and what would you be eating?
With my sem- twisted thinking, I would have to say Ghandi, Richard Ramirez, Dr. Kevorkian, Nostradamus and John Lennon to compare notes... and we’d be eating THC edibles.
On Saturday, April 4th, Thinkspace Projects will be hosting a special "opening" as live streams on Instagram and Facebook from 5-7pm PST to celebrate both Carlos Ramirez and Huntz Liu's shows. Full digital previews for both exhibits will be live tomorrow Saturday, April 4 at 10am PST on https://thinkspaceprojects.com/
Schedule is as follows:
5pm - Video posted to Thinkspace's Instagram TV
5:15pm - Thinkspace will go live on Instagram
6pm - They will go live on Facebook
6:30pm - Webinar tour on Zoom / details to follow