At ninety years old the highly talented and much loved sculptor, Ramiz Barquet, passed away July 4th 2010 from complications of a heart attack. He was not only Galeria Pacifico's principal sculptor but was also was our dear friend for over thirty years. He and his sculptures were the major inspiration for initiating the gallery's Public Sculpture Tour four years ago. Those who have attended had a chance to meet him at the gallery at the completion of the tour when he would answer questions about casting in bronze and tell stories about his sculptures and career. Those who didn`t meet him probably knew of him through his monumental bronzes on public display throughout the city.
His most famous work, “Nostalgia,” has been on the Malecon ocean promenade since 1984 and has become one of the main visual symbols of Puerto Vallarta, featured in various magazines, newspapers and travel books, including on the cover of the current Moon Publications` “Puerto Vallarta Handbook.” The highly romantic story of how it was inspired by his relationship with his wife Nelly has captivated the imagination of couples of all ages, serving as a symbol of universal love as well as a tribute to the special romantic quality of Vallarta. The “Pescador/Fisherman” at the end of the northbound bridge over the Rio Cuale, the “Tiburon en Espiral/Shark in Spiral” at Los Muertos Beach, the “Juglar/Minstrel” on Calle Hidalgo, and “San Pasqual” (the patron saint of chefs and cooks) on the new Malecon in front of Restaurant Vitea are all sculptures by Ramiz Barquet that you may have seen while in Vallarta.
More off the beaten track are, “Un Niño, Un Libro, Un Futuro/A Boy, A Book, A Future” in front of our public library, “La Familia/The Family” in front of the government office for housing and family affairs, DIF, and most recently a different interpretation of a family, “La Familia de Cuatro/The Family of Four,” a sculpture in polymer resins installed this summer at the Universidad de la Costa, our local campus of the University of Guadalajara. Often has been referred to Ramiz as the artistic patriarch of Puerto Vallarta, but he was also the artistic philanthropist, having donated the artistic content of all his local public sculptures, and in some cases helping to raise the money for the foundry costs for casting and transporting the pieces. In addition, he contributed small sculptures for auctions and other fund raising efforts for a number of locally based organizations such as BECAS (scholarships,) Biblioteca Los Mangos (public library) and the International Film Festival, which used his pieces as special awards for film industry notables such as the director, Roger Corman.
However, Ramiz also helped to create several other monumental bronzes throughout Mexico when he was an assistant and protégé for many years of Augusto Bozzano, a former director of the famous Florence Academy of Arts before he emigrated to Mexico City as a political refugee from Italy in the late 1930`s. And speaking of emigrants, another sculpture by Barquet that has become especially famous recently is his interpretation of an emigrant to Mexico from Lebanon, the birth place of his parents. In fact, there are now versions 19 feet tall installed on Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, by the harbor of Veracruz, Mexico, and by the harbor Beirut, Lebanon. Mexico even used the image on a postage stamp honoring the Lebanese emigrants who came to Mexico from the late 1800`s to the early 1900`s, and several Lebanese Cultural Centers in major cities in Mexico have smaller versions.
He has had numerous individual and collective exhibits in Mexico City as well as in Monterrey, Guadalajara, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta. He has exhibited in cities of the United States, such as Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Seattle and San Antonio. His work is found in private collections, in Mexico, the United States, Canada, South America and some European countries. There is an important collection of his sculpures in Hong Kong. The city of Puerto Vallarta will be forever grateful for his artistic contributions and will always remember him. His work, speaking for himself, will be admired and enjoyed by many generations to come.
To read more about Ramiz Barquet and his sculptures please click on the following link to Gary Thompson´s article in Vallarta Lifestyles: