The Peek-a-Boo Painter

Palm Springs Fine Art Fair honoree Mel Ramos says, “I’m Not a ‘Pin-Up’ Artist”

The model leads the eye to Mel Ramos’ crisp rendering of the letter “R,” two gold dots, and “1845” on the Vegas Robaina cigar


Curvaceous, idealized nude women rise from popular candy wrappers — Mounds, Junior Mints, Snickers — or from a velvety Crown Royal sack, the skin of a Chiquita banana, a can of Planters Mixed Nuts, or a glass of Coca-Cola.

The models pose, smile … you get the idea.

Just don’t call the painter of these images a pin-up artist.

“I hate that label,” says artist Mel Ramos, who, for the record, also dislikes the Pop label. “I’m a figurative painter. Figure painting is what I do. That’s how I started out as a young kid. One day I put a costume on [a figure], and then my work became associated with Pop art. But that [movement] was a bunch of artists who were doing similar things and then went off in their own directions.”

Ramos, whose star rose with his early-1960s paintings of comic-book superheroes and later for those fictive nudes, has built a robust following in the Palm Springs area. This month, Imago Galleries is showing a selection of the artist’s work in Palm Desert, as well as at Palm Springs Fine Art Fair (Feb. 14-18), which will honor Ramos with its lifetime achievement award and exhibit a career survey of his paintings and drawings.

“My paintings deal with figures and products, which was the great theme of American advertising when I grew up,” says Ramos, 77, who splits his time between Oakland and Horta de Ebro, Spain.

“I was fascinated by the way they used sexy girls to sell stuff. I chose the [product wrappers and containers] because of their design quality. The brands that I use are glamorous in a certain way. Like Coca-Cola — you don’t even have to read it to know what it is. It’s a beautiful lettering font. I have no problem with stealing other people’s ideas.”

Ramos not only steals them; he also painstakingly recreates the typography. “I want it to look like it was untouched by human hands,” he says.

The works shown in the art fair’s career survey will span the early superheroes and Peek-a-boo keyhole paintings to his recent, meticulous drawings that combine black-and-white and color.

“I used to do drawings as preliminary sketches,” Ramos says. “Then I got into computers to make work more efficiently. So I stopped drawing. I really loved to draw. My heroes were Velazquez, Matisse, and Picasso. I want to be as good as them. So I decided I wanted to continue drawing — doing drawings of my paintings.”

Ramos also spends his time painting commissions by collectors.

Ultimately, “I want my work to be fun and humorous. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’re probably not going to like my work.”

If you do, you’ll be rewarded with paintings as bright, fun, and colorful as they are masterfully executed.

Helene Galen: Art Patron of the Year

Art Patron of the Year Helen GalenPhoto by Michael Childers


Helene Galen, namesake of Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, will receive the Art Patron of the Year Award on Feb. 14 during the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair opening-night preview party benefiting the museum.

Galen’s $1 million donation helped the museum open its new space in Palm Desert, and she has served the institution in a variety of leadership and volunteer roles for more than 25 years. She also contributes to Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, McCallum Theatre, Eisenhower Medical Center, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Jewish Family Services, and Desert AIDS Project.

Galen and her late husband, Lou, built a collection of post-World War II and contemporary art, which she opened to the art fair’s VIPs last year.

The opening-night preview unfolds from 6 to 9 p.m. at Palm Springs Convention Center.



Comments to this website are moderated by staff. While all comments are welcome, we encourage all to be polite and please do not use this system for advertising or business promotions. Any complaint towards a business or service should be directed directly to that business and not posted here. If anyone has a complaint that a comment is defamatory, please contact me at and I will take appropriate action promptly. Thank You

Add your comment:
Edit Module
Palm Springs Life
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Holiday Show Pays Homage to Bob Hope USO Tour

Returning to the Palm Springs Air Museum on Dec. 5, “Thanks for the Memories” will be a special holiday performance that pays homage to Bob Hope’s legendary Christmas shows for the troops.

Tickets on Sale for Fashion Week El Paseo

Tickets for Fashion Week El Paseo™ 2016, a Palm Springs Life event, are on sale.

Dorothy Hamill Backs 'Miracle on El Paseo' as Honorary Chair

Dorothy Hamill looks forward to her return to the desert to serve as the 2015 Honorary Chairperson for “A Miracle on El Paseo” honoring Bighorn “Behind a Miracle” on Nov. 21 in Palm Desert.

Disco Ball to Shine on Neuro Vitality Center Benefit

The disco ball will be in full force when guests boogie on down for an Evening of Hope: A Night at Studio 54 hosted by The Stroke Recovery Center to benefit the Neuro Vitality Center.

Century La Quinta Offers Enhanced Movie Experience

The opening of the Century La Quinta and XD on Nov. 5 will mark a new look and feel to going to the movies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions + Contests

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

McCallum Theatre Broadway Blockbusters Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the four 2015-2016 Broadway Blockbusters Series shows.
Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Romantic Palm Springs Getaway

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couples getaway
GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

GuestLife Magical Monterey Bay Experience

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.