Arts in the Family: A Family of Artists Just Trying to Make a Living in the Wilds of Texas


Saturday, October 9, 2010


I like taking photos of the sky. I use my simple ol' digital camera my mother in law Rosemary gave to us. These are but a few of the sky photos I've taken over the last ten months. Brew some tea, put on some Mel Torme and chill a while.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Father and Son at Work

My father and I working together outdoors (there's no better place) on a perfect day on the oven set piece for the ballet "Hansel and Gretel".

Dad making precision cuts.

Dad hard at work having fun.

My hispanic heritage is important to me. Historical figures like Cesar Chavez and Emiliano Zapata are a part of the collective hispanic experience. But now I'd like to talk about someone, who perhaps wont be mentioned in any history books but will be long remembered in my family. That person is my father Alberto Ramirez. He comes from a family of woodworkers who could build just about anything you could ask for. He was taught the trade by his father Jose Angel.

My interest was in the visual arts but my father tried to teach me what he could despite my young thick- headed attitude. Somehow I managed to pick up a few skills and have utilized them over the years. I might not be a craftsman like my grandfather or my father but I inherited the love to make things with my hands. As I've gotten older that love seems to grow. At forty seven years of age I'm proud to be able to work alongside my father, still learning from his vast knowledge and experience.

This past week he and I worked out on the driveway cutting and assembling the oven for the ballet "Hansel and Gretel". I remember many times as a boy when he'd have extra woodworking jobs to do at home so he'd set up the saw horses outside working well after nightfall under the light of a street lamp.That day last week was very similar. We kept working until we had to stop for dinner and would have kept working after dinner till sunset were it not for the fact that he had to drive back home to Laredo. He loves what he does and that love is infectious. I'm proud of my family's heritage. And I'll do my best to keep that heritage alive for my children and then their own.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Clown College Chronicles Part 5

Keith as the nerd comic.

The one and only Keith Alexander.

The fabulous, funny Robyn Simms.

The multi-talented and funny Patrick Kelly.

For our second day at Clown College we were expected to put together a variety show to present to the faculty that evening. Most everyone performed some skill or routine they were familiar with or created one from scratch that day. Despite our full schedule we somehow managed to put together a show.

That night we got to see some really amazing things from our fellow students. Karen Rylander and Darren Wilson were the emcees for the evening. Keith Alexander did a stand up routine. He's just a funny guy. He had great comic timing, knew great one -liners and was very charismatic. All the jugglers got together to do a fantastic routine using balls, clubs and hats. Robyn did a comic monologue while sitting in a chair as she made a paper airplane with her feet. I can't remember for the life of me what the monologue was about but I recall laughing while being amazed at how she could focus on doing those two things at once. Many of us did clown gags.

Patrick Kelly, Chad Miller and I put a gag together for the show. I couldn't tell you much about it except to say it was full of slapstick comedy including some falls. I remember doing a backfall for it and hearing a big reaction from Jeff Jenkins who I think we surprised with all the falls we were able to do. Of all the things I wish I could see or do again it would be that variety show. We bonded on the first day but those bonds were made permanent that second night.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chalk Talk Meeting

Last night I attended the orientation meeting for "Chalk Talk" which is this Saturday. The meeting was at the Art Pace building downtown. The room was full of unfamiliar faces, many of them very young. I haven't been involved much with the fine arts community in the last eight years. Working as an illustrator is a very solitary type of work and more so in my case because I'm a bit of a hermit by nature. I like staying sue me. Anyway, I'm in the process of turning over a new leaf. Above is the manual we were given detailing all the important facts regarding the event. Below is a map of the entire setup for the event. We'll be tucked cozily away between two port-o-john areas. Oh, the convenience !

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clown College Chronicles Part 4

Steve Smith, our Clown College Director and fellow clown.

Clown College I.D. photos of myself (above) and my clown brother Chad Miller (below). I seem to have a faux mullet while Chad sports the chain gang cut. He never stopped smiling that way much to my annoyance.

We get our Clown College jumpsuits. Pictured in the foreground is Karen Rylander and to her left is Kristin Stearns. Pictured above is the beloved Clown College bus. Popping out of the windows are (L to R) Chris "C Mack" MacKenzie, Benny Schultz, Darren R. Wilson, Sasha Brietman and Lem Fillyaw.

So much went on that first day but one of the highlights was going to wardrobe to be measured for our "agent suits" and our Clown College jumpsuits. When we finally got them we couldn't wait to try them on. They were white and splattered artfully with a rainbow of colors and they had the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Clown College log on the back. Not pictured in the clipping above is the baseball caps given to us on the first day that also had the Clown College logo. It simply made you feel very special. I mean being there was special enough but those seemingly little things like a baseball cap and jumpsuit meant a lot to us. We wore them if we went anywhere beyond the confines of the designated Clown College campus on the Circus World Museum grounds or for field trips during school hours. Pam and I still have ours as does Chad. Steve Smith had style.
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