Chuck Ramirez: All This and Heaven Too

September 14, 2017 to January 14, 2018

In fall 2017 the McNay presents Chuck Ramirez: All This and Heaven Too, the first significant survey of work by San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez (1962-2010). 

Ramirez’s large-scale photographs of everyday objects offer a humorous yet poignant perspective on our culture of consumption and waste, and the reality of fleeting life and mortality. Ramirez was inspired by opposing themes—life/death and humor/despair—and incorporates hints of his work as a graphic designer at Texas supermarket giant HEB. Ramirez’s art explores personal narrative including his San Antonio upbringing, Mexican-American heritage, and HIV status, making the project relevant to Texas and the broader arena of contemporary art and photography. Ramirez’s photographs were created as several themed series explored over the course of his career. For example, Santos presents images of the bottoms of religious sculptures most often used for private devotion. This dichotomy of celebration and irreverence appears throughout the work. Other series, such as Trash Bag, Quarantine, and Seven Days, make the perishable permanent, whether in objects, moments, or memories. In others, Ramirez replaces an object for a person, where photography of a purse or piñata becomes a portrait. Through his work, the deeply personal becomes clinically sterile, and vice versa, yet all works explore the human experience.

The exhibition is organized by the McNay’s Head of Curatorial Affairs, René Paul Barilleaux, and includes photographs from approximately 20 series and recreates the artist’s early exhibition installations, reimagining his youthful efforts. Photographs are selected from museum collections, private collections, and the Estate of Chuck Ramirez.

The accompanying publication places Ramirez’s art within the broader context of contemporary photography through two essays. Curator and San Antonio native Edward Hayes surveys Ramirez’s art as it is filtered through his biography and personal narrative. Writer and curator Elizabeth Ferrer discusses Ramirez in the context of Latino art. Curator Barilleaux enhances the publication with additional insight.

Image: Chuck Ramirez, 1964-2010. Dulce de Coco from Acenar, 2004. Digital print. © Estate of Chuck Ramirez, Courtesy Ruiz-Healy Art, San Antonio, Texas.

This exhibition is organized by the McNay Art Museum.

Lead funding at the McNay is most generously given by the Dan and Gloria Oppenheimer Fund and John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation of the San Antonio Area Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Linda Pace Foundation, the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, Mitcham Partners, Llp., the Director’s Circle, and the Host Committee.