It’s tough to be an artist – that’s a given.
So imagine the road that 14-year-old Marcial Ramos had to travel as a young boy in Fidel Castro’s Cuba knowing that he had a talent, but not being able to fully practice his craft. Supplies, teachers and venues were difficult if not impossible to come by.
That road has led to Union City for Ramos, a student at Woodrow Wilson School in Weehawken. If he continues on the path he is currently taking, that road could lead him just about anywhere.
Ramos’ extraordinarily mature and thought-provoking art was displayed last week at the Union City Public Library on 43rd Street. The exhibition drew a good number of supporters and residents eager to get a glimpse of the young man’s work.
Painting in a Cubist, abstract style reminiscent of Pablo Picasso, Ramos’ art is a sometimes jarring collage of images that reflect what Ramos has seen and heard in his short time on the planet.
Said Ramos in a recent interview, “Most of my work focuses on war and many other problems being faced around the world and its environment.”
Certainly, the faces of some of the people present at last week’s exposition seemed to express concern for an artist who has lived so little but seen so much.
Said Joe Sivo, board member of the Friends of the Union City Public Library, “It’s really incredible stuff. It’s pretty interesting and he is definitely ahead of his time and age.”
Ramos was born in Cuba on October 10, 1989 and emigrated to the United States in 1995. And before he and his family came to the United States, life in Cuba was difficult, to say the least.
“I started drawing and painting when I was a toddler, two or three years old,” said Ramos. “I used all basically whatever I could get my hands on for art supplies. My parents couldn’t afford any real art supplies anyway. But they always encouraged me.”
Ramos’ first picture was painted using crayons and crude watercolors.
Ramos’ parents, especially his mother Ileana, strongly encouraged Ramos to pursue his talent. Once the family successfully emigrated to the United States, Ramos’ parents did everything they could to make sure that he had everything he needed to become a success.
“It was my parents that really helped me and wanted me to do this,” said Ramos. “When I was 7 years old, my parents sent me to several different artists and I talked to them and learned from them. In these classes, the professors told me that my artistic ability was well beyond my age level. As I grew up, the canvas became more defined, intense and greater in size, so my father and my mother bought me a stool that would help me reach the canvas with my brushes.”
Ramos’ first exposition was four years ago, at the age of 10, when his work was displayed at the Union City Board of Education. Ramos was the youngest child to ever have his work displayed in such a way. According to Ramos, that particular exposition was supposed to last for two months, but wound up continuing for an entire year. Ramos even sold a few paintings. Pretty heady stuff for a 10-year-old.
But as time went on and more of his paintings were being displayed, Ramos began to get even more press. After displaying seven small paintings at Hudson Elementary School in Union City, Ramos transferred to the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Weehawken, a school for the gifted. Here, his art was exhibited in an exposition called “Elements in Paradise.” Twenty-four of his paintings were on display in the gallery and this resulted in quite a bit of press coverage. Ramos was interviewed on Fox 5 News, Cablevison and Spanish language stations such as Noticias 41, Primer Impacto and Al Despertar. Ramos has been profiled in such publications as El Especialito, La Tribuna and Hoy.
Currently, Ramos is studying with art teacher Peter Cox in New York City. Ramos said that he is trying to expand his artistic horizons by taking human anatomy classes and learning about the human body.
“I want to try to move into realism a bit more,” said Ramos.
Surprisingly, Ramos claims that his vision for his future endeavors has less to do with canvas and brushes than it does with movie cameras and editing. Ramos wants to eventually be a filmmaker. “That’s really what I want to do,” said Ramos. “But I want to make films in the vein of Tim Burton, who’s movies look like paintings.” Added Ramos, “A couple of years ago, I got into directors and the process that happens there and that’s what I want to do.”
Interestingly, Ramos keeps his art to himself for the most part.
“I really don’t talk about it in school,” he said. “I keep it to myself for the most part. It’s really not that big of a deal. My friends support me and that’s all that counts.”
One gets the distinct impression that Ramos will most likely master whatever it is he chooses to put his talent toward, whether it be painting, filmmaking or anything else.