The exhibition "Music and Muses" is very personal for artist Christina Ramos. Her inspirations are family, Bible, music and natives from New Guinea, which she renders in a photo-realistic style, mastering the acrylic paint medium. Burbank's Creative Arts Center Gallery parses the prolific body of artwork, 64 pieces, all produced by the artist within the past six months, into thematic sections allowing for adequate space and distance for viewing.
Images of Ramos and her family are threaded throughout the exhibition. Paintings of her daughter are the first pieces viewed; a reclining figurative composition floating above the entry table and a full figure portrait centered on the first panel, greet visitors. The natural flow of the gallery maze leads one to three panels filled with a series of seven "Street Music" themed paintings.
Two of Ramos' children are highlighted as musicians. A series of five tongue-in-cheek self-portraits are grouped toward the back; titles "Hello I'm — Politically Incorrect, A Mom, Not Normal, A Rocker and An Artist" all poke fun at the multifaceted artist.
As technically excellent as Ramos is with acrylics, and as precious as these subjects are to her, I would love to see her take her skill and step out in faith on her compositions. The figure of her daughter is too high school portrait-like and less interesting than the lively self-portraits, which would have been exceptional at the entry to the exhibition as a big "Hello!"
The "Street Music" themed paintings are well executed; however it would be more interesting to see dynamism and motion in the compositions. These creative and colorful subjects seem somewhat trapped in their frames. Music doesn't sit still! Literal photo rendering may be stifling this artist.
The best of Ramos' work are those compositions that came from the artist's imagination. A wonderfully composed painting of Christ titled "It is Finished" hangs in an un-prominent location behind the information desk. The off center composition draws the viewer into the image of Christ's head on the far left of canvas, his eyes look down his arm, to his hand, which is pierced, and nailed to the horizontal cross member of what the imagination reads as the cross. Pain and release are projected onto the viewer. It is excellent.
Ramos plays with this composition again in a painting titled "At Ease," which depicts a woman with her arm resting on the back of a sofa, head resting on shoulder, again discomfort relieved. The most excellent compositions are weakest in their theme. Several biblical themed paintings are salted throughout the gallery, "Baptism," "Parable of the Sower," "Lament," "I Am Weak" and "Angel" but with no particular unity.
The final gallery corner emphasizes Ramos' ability to capture the spirit of her portrait subjects. Working from photos taken by a missionary friend in New Guinea, the artist successfully gives life to the canvas images of Papua natives. The soulful eyes pierce the viewer in spite of the colorful palette. The native dress should distract the viewer yet the artist renders the native chiefs and children with haunting humanity.
One can tell from the choice and treatment of all of Ramos' subjects that she puts her heart and soul into her work, which is pronounced by her excellent technique. It is an exhibition well worth seeing.
Infobox What: Music and Muses a solo exhibition by Christina RamosWhen: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday until May 27Where: Burbank Creative Arts Center Gallery, 1100 W. Clark Ave., BurbankCost: FreeContact: (818) 238-5397