SprATX has recently started a new initiative under the name of “SprATX Ignite“. This program is a short term artist residency program to help launch visual artists to the next level of their artistic careers. We provide a physical studio space to create a new body of work with aid in attaining materials and weekly meetings with the SprATX team leads on everything from social media management to contracts and licensing to custom builds and job management. This program was designed to further help the Austin art community on a more personal level. We’re stoked to share some behind the scenes stories and photos of Josué Ramírez, our February 2018 artist in residence.
Josué Ramírez AKA Rawmirez is a Rio Grande Valley artist who works and creates along the Texas Mexico border. Rawmire’z current work investigates relationships between personal identity, meaning, and locations particularly ‘la frontera’ through references of popular culture, flora, traditional Mexican imagery, bilingualism, graffiti culture and patterns. Read more below.
SprATX: Introduce yourself and share a little about your path as an artist. When did you start creating art?
Ramírez: My name is Josuè Ramírez (Rawmirez). I am a self-taught artist practicing in the Rio Grande Valley. I have always artistically inclined and enjoyed being the “kid who draws good.” I wasn’t able to take any art classes growing up but was able to take technology electives in high school that introduced me to design programs like Photoshop that I continue using today. I started painting in public towards the end of high school because that’s when I was introduced to stenciling.
I remember it so well, a friend of mine was playing with what I thought was a scalpel. She was cutting a skull zombie stencil, I remember being like WTF! She was like, “Yeah dood it’s called stenciling.” After that I was hooked, I got my own X-acto and have been stenciling since then.
At first I would spray paint all over an old shed in the back of my house then abandoned buildings nearby. I moved to Austin soon after and started attending UT. I’d spray paint on Riverside and West Campus, then learned about HOPE Wall and started hitting that place up. When I graduated I moved to LA for a bit and then back to the Rio Grande Valley where I found a great job working as a fair housing advocate in the communities I grew up in. Being back home pushed me to paint in public more and bigger than I had previously. I have met some incredible graffiti writers, muralist and artist from the region who are doing some dope stuff too. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a couple local events and was lucky enough to help out on the last Rock the Block, an urban arts festival in the RGV. Last year I was a part of the HUE Mural Festival in Houston which was awesome. I’ve grown as a visual artist but want to learn as much as I can. I’ve been trying new mediums and diving into sculpture, metalwork and casting. Right now I am kinda hooked on using the piñata technique and aesthetic in different ways specifically with a street art twist. I have been piñata bombing found objects and putting them back in certain locations or done live installations where I cover objects on site with piñata fringe. It’s inspired by yarn-bombing but you know with a Latinx twist.
SprATX: What styles do you classify your art under?
Ramírez: I would classify my work as a mix of urban and outsider art. I would consider it a mix of those two styles but my work can also be differentiated between my public art, as in murals, graffiti and installations, and work that isn’t necessarily available to the general public more like canvas and small sculptures.
SprATX: Talk about the new body of work you’re currently working on.
Ramírez: The work that I am creating is called Texaesthetic, it is a pop art inspired collection focusing on the iconography and design of beverage bottles paired with flower imagery. Part of my objective is to create an atmosphere that feels like Texas through common consumer objects and flora of the state and region. I was inspired by Mexican altars and the idea of reducing that notion in a simple “contemporary” manner. The pairing of the specific flowers with certain bottles is meant to engage the audience to think of their meaning together and what it is meant to represent, mourn or honor. Lastly, I want to draw attention to the simplicity and beauty in the design of every day objects by playing around with scale. The work is a combination of stencils, relief, sculpture and of course spray paint.
SprATX: Details of the pop-up show you’re having at Spratx?
Ramírez: The show is called Texaesthetic, and it’ll happen on Friday, April 6th from 7-10 pm at the SprATX Gallery! Come on by and hang out, I am stoked to see folks. I’ll have a Free Art Friday give away for those following me on Instagram, @raw_mirez (#rawmirez). There will be art and adult beverages if you’re over 21 years! I’m also giving away some one-of-a-kind print to the first 25 people! So you know, come by say Hi and buy 😉 ! RSVP here.
SprATX: Who are your favorite artists? How have they helped shape your style?
Ramírez: Top Five Street Artists, in no order: ToxicoMano, Faile, Lady Aiko, Ahol Sniffs Glue, and Stinkfish.
Top Five Artists, in no order: Carlos Ochoa, Justin Favela, Celeste De Luna, Dan Lam, Selena.
They have all helped shape my style by just making me want to do stuff that is just as good, raw and authentic as their work.
SprATX: Share why you love ATX and how it’s influenced your art. Also, touch on what makes the ATX art scene so special.
Ramírez: I love Austin because I graduated from UT and this place has been an integral part of my journey as an artist and person in general. I learned a lot about street art here and about myself. While I don’t call ATX home anymore I am still closely tied, some of my best friends live here, my youngest brother is also studying at UT and my job has our main office in down town. I’m happy when I visit. The city’s vibrancy, the changing skyline and the eclectic mix of individuals inspire me. Most of all I am inspired by the concentration of creativity that seems to emanate here, and the general public’s support.
SprATX: Explain your experience in the SprATX Ignite Studio/Program.
Ramírez: Working at the SprATX Ignite Studio has been great. It’s a neat co-working space and the SprATX crew made sure I had everything I needed to create, try new ideas out and put together a show. I have been able to meet some awesome artist and do some mini collaborations together, and I have learned from them. The one on one sessions with the crew on topics like social media training, the business side, and the communications/video work has help me identify the tools and processes to become more well rounded artist and entrepreneur. I am happy to share a space with such talented artists and am super pumped for my solo show at the SprATX Gallery. I cant wait to see the development of the Ignite Project since I hear they have some awesome plans in mind that will really benefit many more rising artists.
SprATX: If you could tell the world one thing, what would it be?
Ramírez: Ponte trucha y no te rajes!
SprATX: What types of messages are you trying to portray in your artwork? Talk a little about the power of visual art.
Ramírez: The message I try portray in my artwork is usually inspired by my Latinx culture, history and lived experience as a queer brown man. I usually tend to be more conceptual but everything has to be visually pleasing. I usually references popular culture, flora, traditional Mexican imagery, bilingualism, graffiti culture and patterns to portray whatever that message is. I think visual art is extremely powerful in portraying what words often cannot in a uniquely stylized manner. It sets a vibe, I especially like when visual art is used for a positive social purpose and I try to portray that in my work as well.
Learn more about Josué Ramírez here.
RSVP to his opening reception at the SprATX Gallery here.