Chuck Ramirez American, 1962-2010

Dust Collections and other Tchotchke 1995

Ramirez had his first solo exhibition in 1995 “Dust Collections and other Tchotchke.” In the show he presented a collection of toys, trinkets, and figurines, and uncomposed photographs of such objects. The artist continued using photography as his primary medium, and the use of a sharp-focus image of an object isolated at the center of a white, shadowless ground, a format he continued to use throughout his career. Glenna Park 1995 article, “Chuck Ramirez: Kitsch and Kulchur,” Voices of Art states, “Chuck Ramirez has a major flirtation with kitsch and popular culture. He reframed dime store figurines and toys for our consideration. It was about packaging. In one instance he took a horse figurine and evolved it to the status of high art through conceptual manipulation in the Photoshop computer program. The results of his color photo (scanned, color-enhanced image reproduced with a dot matrix inkjet printer on high quality rag drawing paper) were then hung in tandem with a stack of sugar cubes in a simple divided blond-wood frame. Ramirez is interested in the “tattoo” of ink on paper of a machine process. He has a Warhol aesthetic that lets him address the machine process while he messes with our minds. His “Bronco with Sugar Cubes” is completely successful in its manipulated references and presentation. It is the kind of work that keeps one thinking about the process of an idea and actual process of the medium. Another one of his evolutions of kitsch-into-high-art was his “Sassy Plastic Kitty.” Ramirez dredged up an impressive assortment of forgettable collectibles from our childhood and re-packaged them in grocery-store-type Styrofoam meat trays with shrink-wrap covers. He was thinking about our relationship with animals and our sensitivity to the cuteness of animals as pets and figurines contrasted with our disconnected relationship to the chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cattle that we buy in a butchered and highly-processed form. We don’t see that little white hen or the ceramic pink pig when we buy chicken breast or pork chops. Ramirez might be an animal-rights activist or just interested in the way we are disconnected from our food chain. But he has definitely found a visual choice for giving us thought and engaging our curiosity. The computer manipulated photos as dot matrix color prints are stunning by process and delightful in content. Ramirez’s concepts are completely engaging. This is bright and beautiful work.”