Not many cities have a formal program where they publicly honor local artists on a monthly basis. In Monterey Park, however, the Artist of the Month program is a practice that locals view with great pride.
The honor includes a month long exhibition of the chosen artist’s work at the city’s Bruggemeyer Library. This month, city officials, library patrons and residents attended the opening reception of an exhibit featuring the works of a local photographer more accustomed to being on the other side of the camera lens than in the spotlight.
Margie Ramirez, Monterey Park’s official photographer, is the August Artist of the Month. Her exhibit, “Photos to Cherish,” consists of nine vibrant digital color prints of beaches, sunsets and flowers, and will be on display in the library’s front lobby through August 29.
Senior Librarian Cindy Costales told Ramirez at the August 11 opening reception that the program is a way for the Friends of the Library, the Culture Commission and the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce to honor local artists.
“This is like a birthday party,” she said. “Only we are celebrating [Margie] as an artist.”
Ramirez, who has been taking photographs for over 22 years, said seeing her photographs on display is a “nice feeling,” so is being the one photographed.
“I’m always on the other side of the camera,” Ramirez told EGP. “Now its my turn in the spotlight.”
In addition to her work for the city, Ramirez takes photos for the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce and the West Valley Journal. She previously took photographs for former Assemblymember Mike Eng.
At the reception, Councilman Peter Chan praised Ramirez’s work, noting that at times she worked pro bono and did not charge the city for her prints.
“She’s a good photographer,” he said before jokingly saying: “She takes such good photographs even I look good in them.”
Councilmember Hans Liang also praised the artist of the month program for allowing Ramirez to display work outside of what she normally photographs.
“We’re used to seeing more news type of photography from her so [the exhibit] is a great opportunity to see her artistic side,” said Liang.
Mike Eng, who now serves on Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District, said he has had many people take photographs of him but said Ramirez was always respectful.
“Its easy to say ‘cheese’ when you see Margie because you want to smile,” he said. “Although she’s usually the one taking pictures of us, now we are honoring her.”
Monterey Park Bruggemeyer Library is located at 318 S. Ramona Ave., Monterey Park CA 91754.