This is already shaping up to be a monster year for Glo Ramirez.
Ramirez, a Juneau artist who’s known for cuddly and playful creature designs you may have seen on postcards at Alaska Robotics Gallery, is anticipating at least two showings of her work in 2019.
“It was a great year, and I’m looking forward to the next one,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t think I’d have any shows in 2019.”
Ramirez said she doesn’t have a theme picked out for the shows — she also works in ceramics and creates abstract works — but her signature-style monsters will be featured.
“They’re awesomely cute like a bunch of ninja kittens,” Ramirez said. “It’s basically my tagline.”
She’s also the scenic designer for Perseverance Theatre’s Young Company production of “Disco Alice: The Wonderland Remix.”
Ramirez said making a set with era-appropriate flourishes for “Alice,” which opens in March, has been a departure from her usual work.
“It has been quite a journey,” Ramirez said. “I am not from the ’70s, so I have to listen to a lot of music and get into the groove of the whole situation. It’s going to be the whole Black Box, so it should be like a full immersion.”
The blank-eyed, fuzzy creatures Ramirez creates tend to elicit the same response as Jim Henson’s most child-pleasing Muppets.
They’re technically monsters, but they’re far from ferocious.
“I like her work, it’s sort of whimsical and funny, and it makes me smile, which I sort of appreciate in art,” Inari Kylanen, store manager for Alaska Robotics Gallery.
However, the work has its roots in feelings of frustration, sleep deprivation, anxieties and fear.
“I started with that because I couldn’t sleep,” Ramirez said. “It started that way, just trying to let go of those fears and putting it on paper.”
The monsters also owe their existence to Ramirez, who is originally from Puerto Rico, relocating to Juneau almost three years ago.
“It started when I actually decided to stay in Alaska,” Ramirez said. “It was the summer, and I went to visit some friends, and then it was a beautiful, beautiful summer. It trapped me.”
While she was enchanted enough to stay, the long daylight hours were less than ideal for Ramirez’s sleep cycle.
That bled into her artwork, and Ramirez drew a sleepy monster she dubbed Nix the Monster, Mother of the Night. She sports moose antlers and a constellation body inspired by the Alaska night sky and state flag.
Other fuzzy, masked anxieties soon followed. Visualizing worries as tiny, adorable creatures has a way of making them manageable.
“They’re cute and they’re cuddly and nice, and they’re a way of saying if my fears or this small I can hang out with them,” Ramirez said. “They have masks because you never know what’s going on behind a mask.”
Lifelong interest in art
While Ramirez has only been drawing her monsters for the past few years, her interest in art goes back much further.
She couldn’t paint on the walls, but Ramirez said her parents would hang up large sheets of paper that she could decorate.
“My parents were very supportive, just giving me art supplies all the time,” Ramirez said.
Despite the support, Ramirez had the idea that art was not a viable career deeply entrenched in her head.
“I tried to study other stuff, like computer programming,” Ramirez said. “One thing I kept repeating is, ‘Oh, if I have time to start drawing again.’”
Eight years ago, while still in Puerto Rico, she lost her job, and suddenly, she did have that time.
Ramirez began working on her art and went to Puerto Rican comic conventions and developed her style.
“In the beginning, even as an adult, I tried a lot of being inspired by other people’s art, but I think the great part of those little monsters, what I’ve been doing now is they’re easy to find a personality with them,” Ramirez said.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.