Visual Artist:DANNY RAMIREZ
 cell:786-412-2869 
email:dadapoet@bellsouth.net

                           My Meyers-Wynwood
 Magazine/Elisa Turner Review
Danny Ramirez and Mr. Myers: my sweet Jane
by Elisa Turner

An engineer’s eye for exactitude brought them together in life.
An artist’s eye for ephemeral drawings created by curling trails of smoke brought them together in death.
“Mr. Myers: My Sweet Jane,” a solo show by Danny Ramirez in 2009 at Diaspora Vibe Gallery in Miami, was a compelling memorial to the way a seriously ill, aging structural engineer named William M. Myers transformed the life of artist and graphic designer Danny Ramirez. 
It was an ambitious show in which Ramirez, a talented draftsman and sculptor, pushed his artistic gifts forward to experiment with various media new for him. And it was the kind of show that enhanced Diaspora Vibe’s growing reputation as a dynamic force in the community, a force that takes risks to nurture talents linked to Miami’s vibrant cultural mix.
In the first gallery, Ramirez presented a suite of ten drawings. The drawings gently, precisely evoke aspects of Mr. Myers during the seven years they worked together. This period came to an abrupt halt when Mr. Myers died of throat cancer in 2004. While each drawing is a vivid tribute to a specific aspect of the man’s multi-dimensional character, a haunting sense of mortality is present in the affecting way each drawing is framed by a simple wooden rectangle floating in space, a rectangle on which a small sculpture rests. The almost ghostly appearance of this distinctive framing device makes a quiet contrast to the drawings themselves. They are mounted on the wall directly by clips in a pragmatic manner Ramirez learned from Mr. Myers. The artist recalls that his late mentor’s home contained so many drawings clipped to the wall that it resembled the office of an architect. 
Consider, for example, a drawing in which we see Mr. Myers from behind as he smokes in a dilapidated reclining chair. The only part of his body that’s visible is one arm and hand holding a lighted cigarette. Smoke from this cigarette drifts in serpentine formations verging on the calligraphic, unfurling snippets of mysterious narratives. “He used to say,” recalls Ramirez, “that he could see his past in his smoke.” Lightly balancing on the wooden rectangle framing this drawing is a lumpish gray sculpture of a man awkwardly sitting in an ash tray similar to the one used by Mr. Myers. Leaning against the ashtray is an empty package of Marlboro Lights, his favorite brand.
Ramirez deftly updates Pop art with allusions to Andy Warhol’s appropriations of commonly purchased objects and George Segal’s famously ghost-like plaster sculpture. In this thought-provoking 21st Century multi-media memorial, Ramirez transforms Pop allusions by mixing them with oblique references to ancient funerary art as well as to experimental music from iTunes. In many cultures, ancient tombs of celebrated families held objects from their daily life for assisting them in the afterlife. Throughout this exhibit are numerous objects, including an ashtray and can of the liquid supplement Ensure, like those used daily by Mr. Meyers as his health declined. This exhibit becomes a healing tribute to the spirit of Mr. Myers, which seems very much alive in the ambitious artwork by Ramirez. At Diaspora Vibe, the second gallery incorporated a smoke machine, shadowy projections on a delicate smoke-like mural, and experimental music to conjure the all-seeing eye of this unforgettable engineer. 
August 2009
copyright Elisa Turner  
 

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Mr.Meyers 
“My Sweet Jane” 

Falling Clock/June-2001(5:30PM) 

Mr. Meyers would leave his front door open so that I could walk in. He would leave the front door open just in case he fell asleep while sitting on his recliner. I remember walking into the condo to find Mr. Meyers sleeping countless times. Typically I’ll knock while simultaneously calling out, “Mr. Meyers. If Mr. Meyers replied, “uuurrrrrhhh-Yes Danny, come in”, I’ll proceed in walking in. If I didn’t hear anything, but the door was still unlocked, I’ll let myself into the condo as previously requested by him. I’ll sit on his couch and begin to draw or read a magazine for a bit, and give him about half an hour to wake up. If he didn’t wake up in half an hour, I’ll nudge his shoulder until he woke up. His shoulders felt fleshless, he was already to thin for a naturally thin man. This was our routine for seven years. Today I called out his name three times after knocking. I did not receive a response. “That’s odd”, I whispered to myself. The door was unlocked so I knew he was expecting me. In fact earlier this morning he acknowledged my afternoon visit via a message on my cell phone. As soon as I opened the door I noticed that the recliner did not have a very thin old guy sitting on it. “O.K. he’s in the bathroom”, I thought to myself. I took two steps into the condo and locked the door behind me. Immediately I noticed that the tall standing clock near the kitchen entrance was laying face down across the hallway floor. “Mr. Meyers are you O.K.?”, I shouted. “Yes Danny I’m down here”, a calm soft voice filtered its way from the fallen clock. As I turned the hallway light on, I also noticed that a mist of smoke had accumulated through the hallway interior. There he was, trapped underneath the clock and unable to do anything, except smoke his Sweet Janes. “Mr. Meyers are you alright?”, I asked while removing the large clock from on top of him. “I don’t know”, he responded while still finishing his last cigarette. “How long have you been like this?” “A couple of hours-not sure”, Mr. Meyers replied still enjoying his last Sweet Jane. He did not attempt to stand up until he had finished his last Jane. Once finished I helped him stand and then sat him back onto his recliner. He reached into his long sleeve shirt pocket to find an empty cigarette box. As he tossed the empty box into his old trash bin he grabbed the carton on the floor next to his recliner. He pulled another cigarette box from the carton. He then said with an “undentured grin, “I almost began to panic”. He was hospitalized for a week, but the doctors did not have to replace his hip.  

I met Mr. William M. Meyers P.E. in 1997. Mr. Meyers had large light green eyes that seemed even larger as he stared through his thick lenses. At the time he was already a long time established Structural Engineer, Mr. Meyers was the first Structural Engineer to work strictly with signs in South Florida. He was 74 years of age. He stood 5 foot-eleven inches slump-over and 6 foot-2 inches twice a week when his back wasn’t hurting him as much. “Get me some Sweet Janes” he used to say. His Marlboro Lights 100’s which he used to refer as his “Sweet Janes”. He named his cigarettes after an old girlfriend he met once overseas during his services in the Navy.
Danny Ramirez - 2651 SW 19th Terr. #1104Miramar, FL 33025 - 786-412-2869-dadapoet@bellsouth.net - www.danny-ramirez.com 
It would be relatively easy to gather all the stories that I shared with Mr. William M. Meyers P.E. and create a ten-book biography of his life. The ten-book biography of course would only cover the span of time in which I knew him. For example one chapter can be dedicated to the time he worked for N.A.S.A. Early in his career, he helped engineer the mirrors eventually utilized for space telescopes. Another chapter would be dedicated to the ten year span he spent traveling the globe as a Navy man, or his unexpected decision to divorce his wife. He was married for forty years. “I just want to be alone”, he told his wife one morning over breakfast. I could also write about the time he had a Brazilian prostitute living with him. He happened to meet her, while grocery shopping at Publix. She stayed with him for about three weeks hoping to obtain some money from him. He knew it was a scam, but like he said “Danny, I know nothing 
works down there, but I just wanted something pretty to look at”. Another time he gave me one thousand dollars, so that I could start my business. What made these episodes in Mr. Meyer’s life more interesting is that, he did not talk about his past history with me at first. I would find out through an old acquaintance of his, or subsequently by chance, while finding framed pictures in boxes during his move to a new apartment. 
In 2000, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Unable to swallow food during his throat 
chemotherapy, the doctors inserted a hose down into his stomach. He was to nourish himself this way until the chemotherapy sections had ended. The therapy fortunately put the cancer into remission, but unfortunately it destroyed his salivary glands disabling the body’s ability to produce saliva. The doctors decided to leave his feeding tube in for a few more months. They thought that his glands would restore themselves with the aid of electric throat therapy. He would never regain the use of his salivary glands again. Mr. Meyers lived the remaining portion of his life drinking Ensure cans by using his feeding tube and a funnel. He never ate solid foods again. Although he did try his own methods, they worked for only brief amount of times. In order to keep his mouth and throat lubricated to speak and sleep, the doctors prescribed a synthetic saliva solution in a can. By spraying this substance into his mouth, he was able to talk and sleep more comfortably. He continued to do this until his death. I purchased many of these cans to aid him. Meanwhile he continued his habitual smoking and he also continued to consume alcohol. He would pour small portions of wine or vodka using the funnel and tube attached into his stomach. Smoking and alcohol consumption had been like a Siamese twin for Mr. Meyers. It was impossible for him to stop these lifetime addictions at that point in his life. Like I mentioned earlier, it would be quite simple to create a biography or sitcom of Mr. Meyer’s life. It would not be difficult at all. 

It would be relatively easy to gather all the stories that I shared with Mr. William M. Meyers P.E. and create a ten-book biography of his life. The ten-book biography of course would only cover the span of time in which I knew him. For example one chapter can be dedicated to the time he worked for N.A.S.A. Early in his career, he helped engineer the mirrors eventually utilized for space telescopes. Another chapter would be dedicated to the ten year span he spent traveling the globe as a Navy man, or his unexpected decision to divorce his wife. He was married for forty years. “I just want to be alone”, he told his wife one morning over breakfast. 


  Danny Ramirez - 2651 SW 19th Terr. #1104, Miramar, FL 33025 - 786-412-2869-dadapoet@bellsouth.net - www.danny-ramirez.com
I could also write about the time he had a Brazilian prostitute living with him. He happened to meet her, while grocery shopping at Publix. She stayed with him for about three weeks hoping to obtain some money from him. He knew it was a scam, but like he said “Danny, I know nothing works down there, but I just wanted something pretty to look at”. Another time he gave me one thousand dollars so that I could start my business. What made these episodes in Mr. Meyer’s life more interesting is that he did not talk about his past history with me at first. I would find out through an old acquaintance of his, or subsequently by chance while finding framed pictures in boxes during his move to a new apartment. In 2000, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Unable to swallow food during his throat chemotherapy, the doctors inserted a hose into his stomach. He was to nourish himself until the chemotherapy sections had ended. The therapy fortunately put the cancer into remission, but unfortunately it destroyed his salivary glands disabling the body’s ability to produce saliva. The doctors decided to leave his feeding tube in for a few more months. They thought that his glands would restore themselves with the aid of electric throat therapy. He would never regain the use of his salivary glands again. Mr. Meyers lived the remaining portion of his life drinking Ensure cans through the use of his tube and a funnel. He never ate solid foods again. Although he did try his own methods, they worked for only brief amount of times. In order to keep his mouth and throat lubricated to speak and sleep, the doctors prescribed a synthetic saliva solution in a can. By spraying this substance into his mouth, he was able to talk and sleep more
comfortably. He continued to do this until his death. I purchased many of these cans to aid him. Meanwhile he continued his habitual smoking and he also continued to consume alcohol. He would pour small portions of wine or vodka using the funnel and tube attached into his stomach. Smoking and alcohol consumption had been like a Siamese twin for Mr. Meyers. It was impossible for him to stop these lifetime addictions at that point in his life. Like I mentioned earlier, it would be quite simple to create a biography or sitcom of Mr. Meyer’s life. It would not be difficult at all. Yet it is important that you, “the viewer” obtain some history of his existence. It’s vital, because now you also have a sense of who he was. You have now been officially introduced to the man who was almost killed by a standing clock. He never did mention how that clock fell on top of him.

Why is his existence relevant? His life is relevant to me obviously because I knew him. He caused a change and or shift in my life simply for being him. He did this without knowing. He did this while doing all of the things that he did on a daily basis. Why should his life be relevant to you? Well, at some level you have already made him relevant in your life. My memories of Mr., Meyers have been passed on to you. You have been given a glimpse of his life as documented in my subconscious. You are like a carrier of his life in some way. You also, have the ability to pass along his story if you wish, as recipients of his story become part of his legacy as well. This is cause and effect. You have just aided in expanding his existence. This is the essence of the exhibition. My work has always explored the process of things and how time and thoughts coincide with themselves, I am still fascinated by this. Mr. Meyer’s life in solitude also brought interest to me. Only after his death, did I realize that he was my mentor for those seven years. It is 
strange, but after his death, I felt that I had graduated from his college. 
Danny Ramirez - 2651 SW 19th Terr. #1104, Miramar, FL 33025 - 786-412-2869-dadapoet@bellsouth.net - www.danny-ramirez.com

This college was a second floor one-bedroom apartment located in Hallandale Florida. I was his only student, and technically he taught me his style for producing schematic drawings. I learned this only because he couldn’t hold a pencil anymore, due to his arthritis. I began to draw while he coached me along. He wasn’t a patient person, yelling at me until his saliva would run out again. This would occur quite often. I would later begin to utilize this style of producing schematic drawings, in order to create future installations in a blue print format. I used this method as recent as the MOAD exhibition in San Francisco. Basically, I feel as if I’m carrying his torch. My schematic renderings are as he once designed them. Mr. Meyers, represents that unique individual who appears maybe once in a lifetime. These individuals cross our path unexpectedly in the most obscure moments. Sometimes they are gone as soon as they appear, but they leave a legacy behind. His legacy ended one Thursday morning in 2004. I saw him for the last time that previous night. I thought he would pull out of it, like he had done so many times before. 

At the hospital, a woman was sitting by his bedside that night. It wasn’t his ex-wife nor his daughter. The women was an ex-secretary and “lover” who he had instructed to take care of things in the event, or if he become very ill. She mentioned that she had contacted his daughter, and his ex-wife. She had also contacted his three sons as well. “Three sons?”, I responded quickly. He didn’t tell you he had three sons? “No”, I replied again. Apparently his three sons never spoke to him after he divorced his wife of forty years. Even at the end of his existence he kept secrets from me, secrets that he kept until death. This only added to his unique existence and folklore of sorts. 
Soon after his death, all his belongings disappeared and he was cremated. This mystery 
women, promised to contact me once the cremation took place, but she never did. Mr. Meyers seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth. I was unable to pay my last respects; it still bothers me from time to time, that I was unable to. Today, some people still remember his infamous addictions and his fall from grace. I remember a different person. 

Sometimes we meet people who change our life’s forever. These people are not family members, nor are they friends. These people are like another breed altogether. They are unique, spontaneous, uninhibited, colorful human beings with closets full of skeletons. They can also become our mentors. Mr. Meyers did matter at least to me, he was just simply a lonely soul. This is a brief chronicle of Mr. Meyers life as portrayed through art and installation.  

This is his “Sweet Jane”. 

Mr.Meyers 
“My Sweet Jane” 
Exhibition Dates 
June 11-July 23, 2009  
Diaspora Vibe Gallery
3948 N. Miami Avennu-Miami Design District-Miami, Fl 33127 305.573.4046 www.diasporavibe.com
Danny Ramirez 2651 SW 19th Terr. #1104 Miramar, Fl 33025 786.412.2869 www.danny-ramirez.com 

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