Martin Ramirez postage stamps

stampsHowdy. I’m back (almost). Drove into the big city today to get new glasses. I hate to break the news to you, but glasses are getting bigger again. My computer will be ready tomorrow; it seems it was down with a virus. So much for the writing retreat. For the amount I’ve had to pay for all these fixes, I could have flown to Paris and sat, drinking absinthe on the Left Bank, will all the other writers.  Ah well.

The biggest news in the outsider art world (if you haven’t heard) is that the US Postal Service is going to issue 5 stamps honouring one of the *BIGGEST* American outsider artists, Martin Ramirez!

Like many outsider artists, Ramirez had a sad, sad life. He travelled to the USA from Mexico in 1925 and worked as a miner and railroad worker. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in the 1930s and was institutionalized in a psychatric hospital in California until his death in 1963. Thirty + years in a psychiateric hospital…  Need we say more?

You cannot have picked up a book on outsider art without seeing a Ramirez drawing. They are often for sale at Outsider Art fairs at more than (probably) you or I could afford. His images often include a caballero (cowboy) on horseback, in a scene of tunnels. Much speculation on the significance of the caballero (obvious image from his life in Mexico)  and the tunnels. They are typically smallish aboutt 18 inches x 24 inches, although he produced some 20 ft scrolls. The stamp images are shown above.

Like every other outsider artist, Ramirez’s work only became celebrated after his death. The American Folk Art Museum held a retrospective of his work in 2007. It bothers me that the greatest outsider artists are celebrated only after their deaths. (More to say about that later. None of it respectful.)

Here’s to Mr. Ramirez.  Long live the cabellero.