Chuck Ramirez Offrenda, 2010
Offrenda for Chuck Ramirez on S St Mary’s St, 2010

Today marks the 5th Anniversary since Chuck Ramirez’s passing. It was past midnight on the evening of November 5th when Chuck left The Monterey on bike and rode down S St Mary’s St toward his house on Stieren. Chuck was taking the party from The Monterey over to his home, but Chuck never made it there. Just over 100ft from The Monterey, he fell off his bike and sustained a head injury which took his life.

The Monterey
The Monterey

The Monterey closed it’s doors on November 4th, marking their 5th anniversary, and we were there to film their last night. The restaurant was packed with people, many of whom were there the night Chuck was. The Monterey had been officially open for just a day, two days if you include their soft opening on the 3rd. As Rick Liberto recounts, Chuck was there at a table full of young artists and he was “holding court”. We wanted to document The Monterey’s closing night to include in our documentary. It was very similar to the evening Chuck had his accident, many members of the original staff were there behind the bar and serving tables.

Sala Diaz, November 4th 2015
Film Still: Sala Diaz

The Monterey and Sala Diaz co-hosted the event “The Afterparty that Never Happened“. Sala Diaz and Casa Chuck opened it’s doors and The Compound was lit up, inviting The Monterey’s guests over before or after their meals. I spoke with a few people who didn’t know about The Compound or it’s history and some others who were just learning about Chuck. Sometimes I take for granted having known Chuck and the research we’ve done about Chuck and his part in this very unique community. I’m hoping that our film will provide many people with an better understanding of this place and will be part of the community’s legacy.

Chuck's 2009 Offrenda for his Grandmother Lydia Ramirez, Photograph by Mary Durocher.Chuck’s 2009 Offrenda for his Grandmother Lydia Ramirez, Photograph by Mary Durocher

“Dia de Los Muertos is my favorite time of the year. I think it’s the most beautiful kind of holiday. You know, the smells, the food, the flowers, all of that, the candles, everything.” – Chuck Ramirez

Dia de Los Muertos Film Still by Walley FilmsFilm Still: Dia de Los Muertos at Historic Market Square

Dia de Los Muertos Film Still by Walley FilmsFilm Still: Dia de Los Muertos Exhibit at The Guadalupe Cultural Art Center

To illustrate our scene following Chuck’s love for Dia de Los Muertos, we filmed events at Historic Market Square, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center’s Rinconcito de Esperanza, and The Guadalupe Cultural Art Center. It was the first time we’d attended Dia de Los Muertos celebrations and it was a beautiful and inspiring experience. This connects to Chuck’s love for altars and offrendas, which are a reoccurring theme in the film.

Chuck Ramirez Family PhotosChildhood Photos of Chuck Ramirez, Courtesy Patricia Marcus & The Ramirez Family

We’re always working on searching, collecting, and scanning archive material for the film. Some recent acquisitions include early family photographs from Chuck’s sister Patricia Marcus, photographs from the 90s from Henry Estrada and Judy Bankhead, archive material from Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, and documentation of the play “Quinceañera” by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez, which Chuck credits as the inspiration for his 1999 Artpace exhibition “Long-Term Survivor”.

Chuck Ramirez Behind the Scenes, 2002
Chuck Ramirez at Ralph Smith Photography shooting for “Bean and Cheese”, Courtesy Artpace San Antonio

In other recent news we received a production grant from H-E-B! We had a wonderful meeting with Dya Campos, Director of Public Affairs, in mid-August where we shared the research we had regarding the significance of H-E-B in Chuck’s life and work. As I mentioned in a previous post, Chuck worked as a graphic designer at H-E-B for 14 years and much of his work was influenced by his time there. From the use of H-E-B’s “Take Me Home I’m Delicious” stickers in his 1995 exhibition, Dust Collections and other Tchotchke at the San Angel Gallery, to the use of Ralph Smith Photography, a studio he worked at for both H-E-B product photography and for his art practice, including his 2002 International Artist-in-Residence exhibition Bean and Cheese at Artpace San Antonio.

Thanks for reading this Month’s Production Update, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments!

– Angela

p.s. We shared a couple of these photos on Instagram @WalleyFilms, follow us to stay updated between posts!