The cult and representation of the Madonna is a constant in Mexican religious art and popular expression. Whether for institutional, domestic, or personal use, Virgins depicted in many forms abound—in paintings, sculptures, ex-votos, prints, tarjetas (holy cards), medals, and even tattoos on the skin. Roman Catholicism in Mexico is a fusion of indigenous and European belief systems and traditions. Depending on ethnicity, cultural region, social class, and rural or urban context, Mexican culture articulates this fusion dynamically.
—Victor Zamudio-Taylor


Martín Ramírez’s entire body of work could be seen as a series of landscapes, or maps, or fragments of maps that narrate the drama of his life: his migratory and cultural odyssey between the traditional rural world of his homeland in Los Altos de Jalisco and the modernity of northern California in the first half of the twentieth century. In some of his maps Ramírez constructed an alternate world without borders, sometimes connected by trains running through tunnels, where his idealized rural world coexists without contradiction alongside modern buildings, highways, and automobiles. This drawing could be seen as an attempt to portray the most significant cultural contexts that marked his life: his hometown in Mexico and the psychiatric hospital in California, where he lived the second part of his life.
—Víctor M. Espinosa and Kristin E. Espinosa

Horse and Riders

The figure of horse and rider, or jinete, is perhaps the subject most frequently drawn by Martín Ramírez. In the more than eighty jinete drawings in his oeuvre, the primary subject is framed in a boxlike room strongly suggestive of a stage. The artist uses this structural device not just to contain but to valorize his subject. The construction of the stage is subtly altered from drawing to drawing with changes to the shading, line, perspective, color, texture, and scale, creating a surprising diversity in the series. This technique recalls the paintings of folk artist Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946) as well as the modernist Joseph Stella (1877–1946), who treated his renderings of the Brooklyn Bridge in much the same manner.

—Brooke Davis Anderson

Trains and Tunnels

Martín Ramírez had a deep, ongoing fascination with trains, which, after horseback riders, are the most frequently recurring subject in his art. His work is full of long trains emerging from mountains, slithering snakelike over long tracks, crossing a dark abyss over bridges, or running through tunnels that connect Jalisco and California—the two worlds in which Ramírez lived.
—Víctor M. Espinosa and Kristin E. Espinosa

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