José Ramón Lerma was born in 1930 in the Salinas Valley. Lerma came to San Francisco in 1950 and was one of the first Latino students to study at the California School of Fine Arts, now SFAI. Lerma was soon drafted into the Intelligence Division of the U.S. Army at the start of the Korean War. He was stationed close to the front and his experiences there transformed him as a person and as an artist. He returned to San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute to resume his studies in the mid 50’s studying under Jean Varda, Nathan Oliviera and Edward Corbett. Lerma immersed himself in the San Francisco that was the home of Beat Culture and an important center for Abstract Expressionism. Lerma’s peers include Wallace Berman, George Herms, Roy De Forest, Bruce Conner, Manuel Neri, William T. Wiley, Luis Cervantes and Jay DeFeo. He was integral to the burgeoning gallery scene in San Francisco in the early 60’s having solo exhibitions at seminal gallery spaces the East-West Gallery, The Cellar, Spatsa Gallery, Russian Hill Gallery and most recently a major retrospective of his paintings, collages and constructions from 1954-2000 was held at Intersection for the Arts. Lerma has also participated in numerous group exhibitions including the Oakland Museum, The San Francisco Museum of Art, The Sonoma County Museum, Galeria de la Raza, Gallery Sanchez, Somar Gallery, Mission Cultural Center, Richmond Art Center, La Raza Graphics Center, and the Walter and McBean Galleries at SFAI. His work has also been exhibited nationally including the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Albuquerque, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Evergreen State College, and Tuscon Museum of the Arts. Lerma lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Source: San Francisco Art Institute website, notable alumni biographies.
José Ramón Lerma, 2007
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