OK, we're sort of kidding about nobody noticing.
But in a video for ColorLines.com, L.A. painter Ramiro Gomez' new immigration-themed project on the Westside — in which he plants cardboard cutouts of migrant workers on lawns, sidewalks and construction sites throughout Beverly Hills — the cutouts quickly blend with the landscape, and the folks walking by don't seem particularly startled.
And really, that's the point:
Gomez, a male nanny
who commutes from East L.A., is commenting on the fact that we so often drive by the humans who keep our West Coast paradise running without a a second thought, much less a “Thank you.”
An archivist at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center tells ColorLines, “Often these sectors of the labor force become invisible–we're used to them attending our gardens, taking care of our kids, cleaning our homes.”
In a followup with KCET, the artist describes the average shelf-life of a cutout:
The pieces usually stay up for 24 hours before someone nabs them, and [Gomez] writes his contact information on the back so people can let him know where the art winds up. “The valet man lasted for four days,” says Gomez. “But so far, no one has emailed me on any of pieces.”
Here's his video interview, which we're pretty sure ends with Gomez blasting Amanda Miguel along Santa Monica Boulevard. Awesome.
This morning, in hopes of some high-profile viewership, Gomez has reportedly been setting up pieces along President Obama's expected motorcade route — and the president would be wise to take notice. Obama may be in the clear with slow-jammin' hipster youth and the LGBT community (for now), but his harsh immigration policy has made him less than popular with a growing Latino voter base.
Gomez also sometimes paints the workers directly onto fancy magazine ads. Here are some of our favorites from that collection, as posted to his “Happy Hills” blog. Many more where these came from.