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Artist's Work Gives Travelers A Lift At San Antonio International

Iconic San Antonio artist Chuck Ramirez died unexpectedly nearly five years ago, but lives on through his contributions here, and in Art galleries across the nation. And now some of his pieces installed at the San Antonio Airport have been given a new life. Dozens of people gathered Monday morning to re-dedicate that revitalized 7-year-old Ramirez installation.

"We commissioned Chuck Ramirez in 2008 to complete these 11 wonderful light boxes, if you will. The Suitcase Portraits," said Felix Padron with San Antonio's Department of Culture and Creative Development.

Those portraits are photographs in light boxes, all showing suitcases and their quirky contents, and what those contents say about their owners. The art had been located at the long term parking garage but the outside elements were taking their toll on them. Not anymore.

“We were able to re-furbish the photographs. Now they’re back to their original state” said Padron.  As to the pieces' new location, “It’s really the entry point—the front door—to San Antonio.”

They’re now located just outside the building from the baggage pick up. Padron says these pieces are more effective because Ramirez used humor in a place that most people just don’t find comical.

“They’re funny. Like the Buddha he has inside that sort of antique suitcase.”

He says that the Ramirez installation isn't the only place where they hoped humor could brighten travelers' days. 

“And I think that’s the goal of all the other public art projects we do at the airport.”

Also there at the dedication were members of Chuck Ramirez's family, including his sister Patricia Marcus.

"He always saw beauty in things that people couldn’t see beauty in. And it enabled others to see beauty in what he saw.” About the re-dedication of his pieces she said “He would love this! The fact that his work was so appreciated,” said Marcus.

And now it will be appreciated for much longer, and will be seen by a lot more people.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii