LOS LUNAS — What started with a single painting, culminated into an entire art show.
Valencia County artist Eddie Ramirez is showcasing various paintings at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts until Saturday, Sept. 25, in “An Art Journey: Then and Now.”
His painting, titled, “The Last Tribute,” earned him the show after the work took home first place at the 2020 Juried Art Show hosted by the museum. Every year, the first-place winner is given the opportunity to host a full art show of their works at the museum.
Ramirez said “The Last Tribute” holds a special place in his heart, depicting the moment an American flag was placed over his classmate’s casket after losing his life while serving in the Vietnam War. He and the classmate graduated together from Cobre High School in Bayard, N.M.
“He was in the Marine Corps. We were both in Vietnam, but he got killed in Vietnam,” Ramirez said, with tears lightly welling up in his eyes. “I wasn’t able to be at his funeral, but when I came back, his brother, Steve, said, ‘I got photographs of the funeral.’”
The painting shows a close up view of hands placing an American flag while an array of various military medals float in the foreground.
Like “The Last Tribute,” many of Ramirez’s works call back to his Grant County roots, including the centerpiece of the main room.
Consisting of 13 different canvases bolted together, the painting shows various vintage luggage, cameras, a box from the fictional “Silver City Hat Co.” and other odds and ends stacked upon each other.
Eagle-eyed guests might even spot a small sticker on one of the luggage showing the “Kneeling Nun” rock formation located in Santa Rita, N.M., just outside of Silver City.
During his most recent visit to Silver City, he encountered an old radio while meandering through downtown, which he took a photo of and plans to add to the ever-growing piece.
In a separate room depicting his early works from both high school and college sits a painting he did of Broadway in Silver City looking west towards the District Courthouse.
Ramirez said while he was in high school, his art teacher, Mr. Brown, entered that painting into the regional art competition without Ramirez knowing. After taking first place at regional, Ramirez traveled to the state competition, where, to his surprise, he again took the top prize.
“That’s what made me a Dallas Cowboys fan,” Ramirez said with a chuckle. “I got a $500 savings bond. I got a gift certificate for Langell’s Art Supplies and then an all-expense-paid trip to see the Dallas Cowboys.”
Ramirez said Brown inspired and encouraged him to continue painting, which eventually led him to the University of Arizona, where he obtained a Bachelor’s of Art degree in secondary art education.
“That’s really been my forte is teaching kids, so I couldn’t really give that up,” Ramirez said. “To this date, I have some real success stories with some of my students that have been with me forever. It grows on you, and then with my own studio, it’s my little getaway.”
Ramirez continues to teach art classes in Los Lunas, holding three separate classes each week — a Wednesday morning adult art class, a Thursday afternoon children’s class, and a Thursday night wine and paint class.
He expressed great pride in the work his students produce, many of whom have been attending classes with him for so long that he considers them to be friends.
“As my art teacher would say, It’s not about the finished product, it’s about the process. It’s about the journey,” Ramirez said.
Despite portraits not being his forte, Ramirez said his favorite piece in the show is a baby portrait he did of his oldest son, Robbie, while Ramirez was still in college.
“Portraits are very hard, especially commission paintings,” he said. “Commission paintings are so hard to be able to please people and be able to capture that, unless you know the person really, really well.”
Most of the paintings now hung along the walls of the museum show different sights around New Mexico. Ramirez said he now that he carries a cell phone with a camera, he is able to snap a photo when he encounters inspiration for a painting, mainly painting from reference and taking creative liberty here and there.
“He’s a wonderful artist. What I like about him is he has a bunch of different genres,” said Louis Huning Jr., museum specialist at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts. “It’s not all just, you know some artists specialize in this or specialize in this. This is my first time seeing his work and he does awesome in landscapes and people, or even old trailers and cars.”
The museum offers free admission and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday.
“An Art Journey: Then and Now” will be on exhibit until Sept. 25. Submissions for the next Juried Art show hosted by the museum have already been collected, and will go on exhibit from Oct. 9 until Jan. 9, 2022. This year’s theme is “Miracles and Remedies.”