22 January 2010

Ramón Coronado's art speaks quietly

Ramón Coronado is a Los Angeles-based Cross-Media Visual Designer and one of my new favorite visionaries. He calls this project Mercado Negro.

Mercado negro means "black market" in English and it consisted of a 12-week process to reclaim an artifact of urban blight and to find a new use for it. Along the way, he wanted to make a statement about the lack of parks and recreational facilities in LA.

From the Artist's Statement:
Mercado Negro is a Spanish word for Black Market. This 12 week project deals with reclaiming an ordinary, everyday object and transforming it into something with a completely different purpose. I also wanted to create a project that commented on the shortage of parks and recreational functions in Los Angeles.

Moving to Los Angeles four years ago from the small population of Cathedral City was a major eye opener. Los Angeles felt like an entirely new world separate from everything that I had known or experienced before. With little knowledge of LA and it's neighborhoods, I ended up living across the street from MacArthur Park, a dangerous lower income area, overpopulated with homeless, and trash, but with a heavy Hispanic influence.

Spending a year in this area exposed me to the lack of recreational areas for kids in Los Angeles. The irony being that I lived across from MacArthur park, but because of it’s dangerous reputation, no children would ever go there to play and often resorted to playing on the streets running in and out of traffic.

This area is filled with trash on the sidewalks, people sleeping everywhere, and an abundance of shopping carts. Shopping carts exist everywhere and anywhere throughout the city of LA and include themselves as part of LA's landscape. A shopping cart says a lot about a city. Seeing one on every block adds attention to the poverty and that there is no control of private property.

I took it upon myself to take a shopping cart and make a statement with it. I reclaimed LA's iconic shopping cart and created furniture for kids to enjoy in these urban Los Angeles areas. The project is a criticism of the scarcity of recreational functions for kids growing up in a dense city like Los Angeles.
Who thinks to take an abandoned shopping cart and actually do something with it? Over the last 30 years or so, it's become acceptable to blame the marginalized for being marginalized. Ramón Coronado's work is a clever remonstration of that entire way of thinking. Blame solves nothing and makes finding solutions more difficult. Thanks for giving me something to think about Ramón Coronado.


  1. Applaud, applaud for his creativeness and vision. -Brenda-

  2. It's interesting how Ramon Coronado took this unfortunate situation that he's seeing all around him and creating something out of it that's postive, unlike Vivienne Westwood who seems to have taken a very similar kind of unfortunate situation (homelessness) and made it into a completely travesty of a fashion statement—complete with makeup that looks like frostbite.

  3. I think an important part of the job of an artist is to be the conscience of a given culture. Sometimes that conscience celebrates the better aspects of it and sometimes it points to the not so great parts. I think what bothered me about last week's graffitti china service was that it celebrated a symptom of disenfranchisement and didn't seem to want to do anything more than provoke a reaction rather than suggest a solution.

  4. Hey, I think The Home Depot is missing a shopping cart... or two. Those things are not cheap. I looked on line and found I could get one (on sale) for $145.

    Just think, if LA County could get the cost of all of those stolen/abandoned shopping carts and apply it to building parks, would they actually do it? (They could reserve some of them for swing sets and benches of course.)

    When you think of the actual cost that NOT having parks and recreational activities for youth indirectly costs LA(and other cities throughout the US), maybe it's a concept worth exploring. Especially when our tax dollars are spent instead dealing with gang violence, building and maintaining prisons instead. In CA, it costs about $137 mil a year to imprison and litigate death row inmates. Life without parole would cost approx $11.5 million.

    To see sobering costs of not managing, guiding and providing wholesome after-school activities for youth and allowing the proliferation of gangs, see statistics by the Violence Prevention Institute: http://www.violencepreventioninstitute.org/gangs.html

    Also see the real costs of caring for homeless Americans:

    I really appreciate Ramón Coronado's expression of this HUGE irony in our society. He may not intend on doing any more than to provoke a reaction, but I think he's onto something important. Setting our priorities in order isn't just a moral issue.


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