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Dina Mitrani on Chuck Ramirez, whose time came too soon...

Dina Mitrani on Chuck Ramirez, whose time came too soon...

Dina Mitrani, once a girl who spent her free time flipping through magazines inexhaustibly searching for perfect Herb Ritts or Bruce Weber shots and combing through bookstores for black and white photographs of couples drinking loved-up lattes in Paris, is now a curator and owner of the Dina Mitrani Gallery.

This inspiring Miami-native has left home twice in her lifetime, fleeing to New York for art and to Madrid for love. Returning to Miami a second time marked a turning point. Having brought two daughters into the world, 18 months apart, she felt stronger than ever. “I thought - if I can do that, I can do anything. And if I feel like I can do anything, I shouldn't have any fear of opening my own business.”

Two years after opening the Dina Mitrani Gallery in her parents’ old clothing factory, she travelled to an opening at the Patricia Ruiz-Healy Fine Art Gallery in San Antonio, Texas. It’s there that Dina met photographer and graphic artist, Chuck Ramirez. They bonded over his work and made plans to keep their conversation going. Unfortunately, two days later, Chuck Ramirez prematurely met his end in a bicycle accident.

Beloved, Chuck Ramirez left a big hole in the San Antonio art community. His legacy, however, is continuously growing in prominence. During one of the biggest events on the art calendar, Art Basel Miami, Mitrani and Ruiz-Healy posthumously introduced Ramirez’s work to countless visitors. His pieces have since been added to permanent collections at the Pérez Art Museum (Miami) and The Smithsonian (New York) and are a part of a current travelling exhibition. Four pieces of Chuck Ramirez’s Lost and Found have become a permanent lobby feature at AC Miami Beach.

In its essence, Ramirez’s work is a keen study of human and societal behaviour, woven with humour and finished with a satirical flourish. His subjects are mainly discarded decomposing objects, which had long outlived their primary purpose. Under his gaze, they transformed into pristine, iconic and human-like portraits.

When asked about Ramirez’s most notable work, Mitrani says: “I would say Lost and Found. I don’t know that I’ve seen this kind of work before. You know, I’d never seen anything like it.”

Title photo credit by So Min Kang Photography.

THE PROFESSIONAL, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

THE PROFESSIONAL, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

“The night of the opening, we were staying at the gallerist's house, and, in the bedroom, there was an image of Chuck's. It was one of his suitcases, the one that's called 'The Professional'. I asked Patricia about it, I said 'Oh my god, I really love that image and I think it's so funny.'”

THE MAKE-UP ARTIST, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

THE MAKE-UP ARTIST, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

“Chuck's work is very lively. I think that his friends informed so much of what he did. […] He was very beloved and I think the friends he had, men and women, women even more so really informed his work.”

THE FASHIONISTA, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

THE FASHIONISTA, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

“Miami is most like The Fashionista. You know? The scarf, the heels and everything is just more fun. It’s pink, it has lots of colour and it’s just super funny.”

GRANNY GOES TO VEGAS, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

GRANNY GOES TO VEGAS, CHUCK RAMIREZ, 2008

“I think I’d like to think of myself as an old lady – with the Granny Goes to Vegas. I hope that when I’m 85, I’m still all about the fashion and lipstick!”

ART ESSENTIALS

  • Look within

    “I think [Chuck] was really interested in characters of society. And I think, that’s where the best art is made. When you look within yourself, and when you look just beside yourself.”

  • Tell your stories

    “We all have such special stories. And making work out of ordinary things and ordinary people that were in his life - I think that’s what also makes [his art] accessible to the world.”

  • Reveal something

    “[Chuck] really thought a lot about everyday behaviours and things, but he was able to pull them apart […] so we can look at that thing and say 'oh', and understand ourselves better.”