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The Art of Ramón Contreras, and the Mexican Muralist Movement

Two Women The Art of Ramón Contreras and the Mexican Muralists Movement showcases works of art by the late Ramón G. Contreras, a San Bernardino artist who painted in the Mexican Muralist tradition. The paintings and drawings, most never before displayed publicly, are loaned for this exhibit, many from the Contreras family. His works are displayed in the Schuiling Gallery through October 25.

Ramón Contreras' work reflects the stories his family members told him about life in Mexico before and during the Mexican revolution. In the tradition of the Mexican Muralists, his subject matter includes scenes from daily life in a rural setting, Catholic iconography, and pre-Columbian references.

Ramón, born in Mexico, came to San Bernardino with his parents when he was one year old. According to family historians, Ramón knew he wanted to be an artist—a muralist—by the age of 10. By the time he reached the 11th grade at San Bernardino High School, Ramón was already a skilled painter.

As a student at the school, he painted a large mural in the original library building depicting scenes from daily life in the countryside of Mexico, filled with allegorical symbols. This mural now graces the walls inside the theater building of the school. Ramón went on to garner recognition for his work, receiving an award at the San Francisco Exhibition in 1937, and studying at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles.

He experimented with print-making, illustration, and works that call to mind animation cels. His association with other mural artists including Diego Rivera, graphic artists, and studios positioned him to become a well-known muralist of the period, if it had not been for his death at the age of 21 in 1940. One of his lithographs is held by the Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit will feature more than a dozen of his works, including smaller oils depicting scenes of "country life" as he termed them, mostly from private collections or held by descendants, along with information about the Mexican Muralist Movement. "Artists living and working in Ramón's time have had a strong and lasting impact on public art, with a legacy that continues into the present day," said Nielsen.

Click on the links below to find out more about this special exhibit.


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