Artist’s eye chart the latest ‘Mural of La Jolla’

Mural by Marcos Ramirez ERRE joins work of 13 other artists on display throughout the Village of La Jolla

The creator of the latest installation in the murals of La Jolla public art series welcomes harsh criticism of his work — or even the occasional praise, probing question or dialogue.

“I want people to respond and to react to what I’m displaying — if they agree with it or if they do not agree ... but I don’t want them to be indifferent and I don’t want the piece to just be decorative,” said Marcos Ramirez (known by his nickname ERRE), speaking with La Jolla Light from his studio in Tijuana. His mural, “Is All That It Proves,” was installed last week at 7744 Fay Ave., replacing “Applied” by Richard Allen Morris.

The work, created specifically for the Murals of La Jolla, is part of Ramirez’s Eye Charts series, which places compelling quotes from various authors into the form of the Snellen eye chart that optometrists use to test visual acuity. The lettering becomes smaller as the quote is completed.

For his La Jolla mural, Ramirez (born Marcos Ramirez Pimienta) chose a quote by founding father, essayist and political activist Thomas Paine, who challenged institutionalized religion. the mural reads: “If I do not believe as you believe/it proves that you do not believe as I believe/and that is all that it proves.”

According to a statement from the Athenaeum music & Arts Library, which oversees the Murals of La Jolla, Ramirez’s piece “deviates from its most obvious reference towards eyesight and becomes about another kind of vision, the kind of vision you perceive through common sense. ... It exemplifies the notion that now, more than ever, we need to embrace tolerance and learn to respect individuals who choose to think in a way different than we do.”

Other quotes in Ramirez’s Eye Charts series include “Nothing will work unless you do,” by the late poet and author Maya Angelou, and “even the freest of free societies are unfree at the edge,” by author Salman Rushdie (who Warwick’s Books brings to University of San Diego’s Institute for Peace and Justice Sept. 12).

“We keep bouncing these phrases against the same walls and it seems to me that we don’t learn, so that’s why I keep pulling them — it’s like a reminder,” said Ramirez, who in 2007 received a United States Artists Fellowship and since 2009, has been a fellow of Mexico’s National System of Art Creators.

Ramirez’s first work in the Eye Charts series was a harsh critique of the “U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan,” featuring two light boxes, one with the eyes of a 13-year- old, blued-eyed American boy peering forward above Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote: “man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” Across from that quote was a box with the eyes of an Afghani girl and a quotation in Farsi from the Quran, essentially conveying the same message: “We are one, single human race and should be hospitable and kind to each other,” Ramirez explained. Born in Mexico, Ramirez immigrated to the United States in 1983. He received a law degree in mexico, though spent 17 years afterward working in construction in Southern California — “building boxes for people to live in” — before his passion for art altered his trajectory. His visual art has since been featured throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and in Sweden, France, Cuba and other countries.

“Going back to my notes in law school I reviewed them and found that most of the time I was drawing instead of taking notes,” confessed Ramirez, whose 2007 solo show at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library was titled “Postales desde el filo” (“Postcards from the Edge”). “I was not happy with the legal environment. I had my taste of it for six or seven months working in my uncle’s law office and it seemed very corrupt and not very promising for my nature.”

—The Murals of La Jolla is a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. More at muralsoflajolla.com

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