Juxtapoz Magazine – The Power of Pablo: Loren Michelle on the Art Auction to Benefit The Pablo Ramirez Foundation

Over the past few weeks, we have been sharing news about the Power of Pablo art auction and special weekend of events to celebrate the life, art and skate influence of Pablo Ramirez and his mother and friends work with the Pablo Ramirez Foundation. As we speak, there is an art auction of works that are also on view at the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco through March 25, 2022, where 100 established and emerging artists who have generously donated work to honor Pablo and support the Pablo Ramirez Foundation. The list is vast, including Barry McGee, ESPO, Alicia McCarthy and others who themselves have created a career based around a folk art and outsider art tradition. This past month we spoke with Pablo’s mother, Loren, about the auction, the foundation and the legacy of art and life she is preserving with Pablo. 

Evan Pricco: This auction is so vast, with so many great artists, but what I want to make clear is that Pablo himself was an artist, right? And there are works of his in this auction?
Loren Michelle: Pablo ultimately painted over 2,500 works of art which is amazing  for me, to see that kind of energy, where the art just comes from him. And then in this auction, having the experience of the artists that are already repped by galleries, gone to school … I can imagine for an emerging artist who is in our show that is so powerful. For a young artist to be next to a Barry McGee (artwork below), Jeffrey Cheung, or Haroshi, or Mark Gonzales, as well. I feel like Pablo’s life and him is really the force of bringing this community together.

It’s was so powerful to see folks like Ed Templeton be like, “Of course,” or Chris Johanson, “Of course,” or Alicia McCarthy, “Of course, yes, I want to be a part of this,” and then the younger artists. It’s also fascinating, Pablo’s father has a piece that he contributed to the show, and it’s a beautiful watercolor. Pablo’s dad, is not a trained artist, he just is somebody who loves to paint and express himself. I think that is really beautiful.

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I think what we’re talking about too is just the story that continues to be told of artists who came into the art world in their own unique way, and then they’ve had success and how that lineage continues. It’s not like Alicia McCarthy, Chris Johanson or ESPO came through in the most traditional way, or approached fine art in the most traditional way. This auction, in its own way, continues that story, that things don’t necessarily have to be as blueprints to follow. 
It’s obviously very bittersweet for me to talk about Pablo and he’s not here, but in many ways it feels like he’s here, like in such a powerful way. I think if he were alive today and saw this outpouring of artists coming together on his behalf, because he made a show with his girlfriend two months before he passed. It was called We Just Got Here. I think he was just so excited about it, bringing so many people together. I think if he were alive today he would be like, “Yes, this is just what it’s supposed to be.”

Was skateboarding always the first creative love?
I would say when he was a year old he started to play music on the tambourines, and I took him to little toddler music classes, so he started playing the drums when he was four. Obviously he played on everything, he was a drummer, he was a jazz drummer ultimately, but music was always a big part of his life. When he was four he got his first skateboard and was hooked since. Music and skateboarding really was the big part of his creative expression.

Did Pablo have relationships with a lot of these artists before?
I know his idol was the Gonz. I’ve gone through Pablo’s Instagram to see who he followed, and I’d say 50% of the people he followed were artists,;they’re not just the skate culture. I know that Pablo had one of ESPO’s books. It’s been so fascinating for me, like one of the greatest prizes is just meeting ESPO and being connected with him: He’s done a bunch of work for the Brooklyn Skate Garden, he did the logo for us, we did a mural project together which we hope ultimately to get a mural at Golconda Skate Park together through the Brooklyn Skate Garden.

We talked before about this connection between graffiti and skate culture, and how both teach you to look at a city in a new, sort of special way. You see things or are looking for things that others might not be looking at, this sort of freestyling of the urban environment and experimental use of space. I always thought that this was an underrated connection between skate and art. 
When Pablo passed, I went to go tag a poem he had written in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. There was this garage that was under construction up the block from my house in Park Slope, so I was like okay, if there’s anyplace that I’m going to officially tag, it will be this place because I know it’s not finished and it could be temporary. It was very freeing for me. It was 4am, I ran into some drunk teenagers while doing it! These drunk kids were like, “Oh, what are you doing?” I was like, “I’m writing a poem.” They’re like, “What’s it about?” I’m like, “It’s about love.” I’m sure I was freaking these kids out! I had a little card that Thrasher made that’s a picture of Pablo and the poem, so if the cops came I was going to just say to them, “Look, my son passed, I’m writing his poetry. If you guys have a problem I’ll just paint over this, let’s just be cool with it.” I messed up the poem when I tried to write it with spray paint, and went back later and did it with the marker. 

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Tell me about the Pablo Ramirez Foundation? 
I think the difference with Pablo’s foundation as opposed to others is the premise is  no matter who you are, how old you are, whether you’re a skater, an artist, or a musician, or not, like me, you, somebody who is 60 let’s say, or 40, who hasn’t figured out what their life purpose: How do you find that secret thing that gets you motivated to get up and be like, “Yes, I love life, I want to be a part of this world, and create, and provide something, and leave something”? The foundation viscerally is about how do you find your why. I always go back to Pablo because Pablo knew it when he was 20 years old, and me being 50 at the time I didn’t always know it, so finding that inspiration is just super powerful. 

The Power of Pablo benefit art auction is live now @ https://www.32auctions.com/thepowerofpablo