BOMB on the Scene: Paul Henry Ramirez: Blackout at the Newark Museum by Richard J. Goldstein

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From the archives and across state lines, BOMB on the Scene hopped on New Jersey Transit to visit Paul Henry Ramirez.  Since painter Roberto Juarez’s 2007 essay on his work for BOMB’s 25th Anniversary America’s issue, Paul Henry Ramirez has relocated his studio to Hamilton, New Jersey from Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  A friend had suggested he apply for space on the Grounds for Sculpture until renovations on his own Hamilton space are complete.  Here, he is a painter among sculptors—among like minds, space is integral to his work as any sculptor or architect’s for that matter.

Paul was there waiting at the Hamilton Station in his maroon vintage Olds, running virtually new with such low mileage.  The expansive and open landscape merged quickly into the even-ness of an office park with dollops of oversized sculpture.  The overpowering sense of studio backlot had just begun as we approached an electronic security gate that automatically slid open, with the right combination, to peacock guarded grounds.  Just ahead looming fresh from the 1920s was the Moorish detailed Motor Exhibits Hall, now home to resident artists’ studios.

From the studio windows, the light spilled inside through a cluster of hibernating geraniums.  We were surrounded by large-scale paintings, full of his characteristic ticklish geometries, which would be installed in the Engelhard Court of the Newark Museum.  We started to talk about this recent commission, BLACKOUT, for the Museum’s centennial…

BOMB on the Scene: Paul Henry Ramirez from BOMB Magazine on Vimeo.

After the interview, Paul had to head back to Newark to work on the installation.  We rode a train back towards the City and had a good talk though off camera.  The camera should always be rolling.  Did Warhol say that?  But if it were perhaps we would never say the things we would knowing we were “on.”  Paul related how he always forgets his keys and has to wear them on a squiggly black cord never leaving his belt loop even while driving; how he got started in New York doing visual display at Macy’s and then Henri Bendel; how it took three years to really get a sense of the New York art scene; and how he found the right fit with his first gallerist Caren Golden.  A parting word of advice from Paul:  “Don’t wait!”

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