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L.A. Artist Delivers Another Side Of Luxury

Jenn Velez |
January 23, 2014 | 2:04 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


Ramiro Gomez’s “Domestic Scenes” takes you into a world where invisible subjects become visibly powerful.  Through the depictions of Latino domestic workers in magazine ads and iconic pop scenes of wealth, he validates the labor that goes into maintaining these lifestyles providing an alternate image to luxury. His first solo gallery show is on exhibit at the Charlie James Gallery until Feb. 15.

Olga and Yanelli
Olga and Yanelli

In a brightly lit dinning room, a father sits with his children for dinner. They sit on beautifully carved chairs around a dark wooden table. Green marble walls, vintage lamps, and other fancy furnishings surround them. The well-dressed family is having Chinese take out on what could very well be the chef’s day off. 

“Sunday nights are almost informal dinning in a formal setting” can be read at the corner of this home style advertisement. This is the perfect image of comfort, this is the image of luxury home style magazines sell. But this advertisement is not quite right. LA-based artist, Ramiro Gomez feels something very important is missing.

Gomez paints a more realistic image of this “casual” family dinner in his piece entitled “Informal Dinner” by adding the help that made it possible; the Latina house keeper. Standing in front of  Gomez’s version of the scene is a cocoa-skinned, shadowy figure. With one hand on chair, she watches the family eat. This figure, usually not shown in the ads, provides a great deal of work. She maintains this image of comfort by cleaning, cooking, etc., but is often not recognized in these images, it is always in the background —this is Gomez’s way of paying homage to her.

This and other portraits in “Domestic Scenes”, provide social commentary on wealth and class that are thought provoking. Gomez not only validates their work, but takes his audience into their world. Gomez tells the stories of the housekeeper, the nanny, the gardener, that often are not told. We see the housekeeper taking a moment to rest in the expensive chair, before she continues her duties. Gomez also uses David Hockney’s 60s scenes of the Southern California lifestyle to show you a different side of the same coin. Gomez replaces the wealthy subjects with Latino domestic workers who work to keep the household features clean.

His work brings attention to the emotional and physical work that these domestic workers provide. It recognizes that these people are behind these lifestyles and images of luxury.

The exhibit is rooted in the upbringings of Gomez who was raised by immigrant parents and had his own personal experiences with domestic work. After leaving the California institute for the Arts, Gomez became a nanny and saw first hand the complex relationships and power dynamics that took place in the Beverly Hills home he worked in. 

This exhibit will give you an intimate perspective that brings light to the experiences of those that are usually in the backlight.

Reach Staff Reporter Jenn Velez by email. Follow her on Twitter here.



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