PRINT January 2003

Katy Siegel

I FIRST SAW CHUCK RAMIREZ’S WORK IN A 1997 San Antonio solo show called “Coconut,” the Latino equivalent to the African American slur “Oreo,” meaning dark on the outside, white on the inside. On the walls hung crisp photographs of coconuts, both whole and cracked open—a deadpan illustration of the word and, at the same time, a portrait of the artist.

Ramirez, who is forty, has had several shows in San Antonio, at Sala Diaz, Finesilver Gallery, and ArtPace. His photographs, of ordinary objects against white backgrounds, are large scale and sharply focused. The unforgiving style splits the difference between the food photos on Chinese restaurant menus and Richard Avedon’s point-blank portraits. Quarantine, 2000, depicts bouquets retrieved from hospital rooms, the flowers’ hothouse glamour offset by their past-prime wilt and droop. Ground Chuck, Lengua (Tongue), and Sausage (all from the

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