Immigrant Workforce Art Spends Weekend in Park

The cardboard workforce by artist Ramiro Gomez spent the weekend in the park.

Eighteen or so cardboard figures, painted in the same style as his immigrant workers installed in Beverly Hills, were lingering at Belvedere Park in East Los Angeles as part of "Meet Me at the Metro" art program.

The METRO programming is mostly performances at selected stops, but this became a collaboration between METRO, the Latino Theater Company and Gomez, giving the artist the chance to expand his observations of the Latino immigrant community.

Within the park setting, the cardboard art documents how the public space is used on weekends, including an immigrant workforce seeking recreation. Or just enjoy the setting, like the cardboard Quinceañera party. "I wanted to reflect the people there. The idea of work versus leisure," said Gomez. He also included workers, such as the vendors who push their carts to sell their wares.

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Courtesy of Ramiro Gomez

By not installing in the middle of the night, Gomez says the cardboard images have a different setting and intent. "The daylight aspect is a different part of it," said the artist, who spent part of the day watching the reaction to the art, and how it worked with the park as a backdrop. "I like exhibiting there, and the idea it's in a public park. Going to a museum or a gallery is not always the right avenue. You can't replicate a park."

Courtesy of Ramiro Gomez

This street art -- in this form -- was tailored to be seen while walking along the small waterfront. What is not different from the "Happy Hills" series is the how the very same people the art is designed to represent walk right past the works. A Latino man pushing a raspado cart has to manuever his mobile store carefully to prevent from knocking over his paper counterpart.

After beginning in late 2011, Gomez's "Happy Hills," a visual reminder of the undocumented, began getting noticed and been subject of discussions and academic papers at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. "I identify with the workforce, and the struggle of working sporadically," said Gomez earlier this year.

The cardboard cutouts, painted and taped or wired together, have been focused on immigrant woman and men, "the predominantly Hispanic workforce, who work tirelessly behind the scenes" of Beverly Hills.

Another series of installations were in Arizona, bringing the idea of immigrant families making the trek across the desert.

Gomez doesn't expect the art to last more than a few days, so he retrieved the pieces so they can be re-installed by noon on Sept 1.

Courtesy of Ramiro Gomez

Ramiro Gomez I Photo by David Feldman

September 1st and 2nd will be the second of two weekends for Meet Me At Metro. Belvedere Park is located at 4914 E. Cesar Chavez Avenue in East Los Angeles, off the East LA Civic Center Gold Line Station.

About the Author

Ed Fuentes is an arts journalist, photographer, graphic designer, and digital muralist who covers a variety of topics and geographies in Southern California for KCET.
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