CFG: What media was your first, and then how did you morph into the others?

RM: I actually began as a muralist as a young kid. i was around 9 or 10 when I got commissioned to do my first work. Over the next eight years, I painted murals throughout several schools in the Ohio school district in which I lived. Unfortunately, I don't have even one photo of any of that work and ALL of those old schools have been torn down. I then quit painting to focus on getting a job that paid. In college, I discovered papier mache and puppetry with Amy Trompettor. I dabbled with it then, and I still do. I like the idea of making a permanent impression out of a temporary medium because it is our memories that bring us the greatest pleasure when we get old and haggard, and I'm only a few days away from becoming decrepit and rundown. My puppet sculptures got me a one-man show for this big Times Square gallery in 2000 or 2001 where I had to submit slides of my work. The curator liked my amateur slides so much, she asked if I would consider exhibiting prints taken from those slides. I've been a photographer ever since.

CFG: If you were to speak to children about the art of creation, what's the most important thing you'd want to impart?

RM: I used to be a teacher way back when, and I still visit schools on occasion to present. I currently have a traveling art exhibit that celebrates Puerto Rican and Nuyorican heroes. Every two weeks it is moved to a new location, so that Puerto Ricans in their own neighborhoods can discover the people from their community who are trailblazers. The exhibit, HOMENAJE, has been traveling to schools as well. The message behind the exhibit ("We can.") is the same message I deliver to young people: "Keep trying because one day you will be able to accomplish, too."

CFG: What's one thing that has stood out to you about Casa Frela Gallery?
RM: I really, really admire the work and efforts of the Casa Frela Gallery and its founder, Lawrence Rodriguez, a gay Latino man who has built a big little castle of a gallery that is home for artists of all colors and all backgrounds and all means. Casa Frela is the little lighthouse on the battered shores of a hostile sea. Despite the weather, she helps shine the light on future possibilities.

Ricardo Muñiz

coquichuloimages at
917 623 7153