3 Portraits, 3 Stories

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The other day I posted about the ongoing portrait project by artist Joe Ramos. I really wanted to include some of his subject’s stories. Scroll down for where you can see his work this week in person. Here are the stories:

Graham

Graham    © Joe Ramos

Graham © Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist

“Graham came to Project Homeless Connect dressed neatly in a tie and casual jacket looking as if he was going to work in the financial district.  There was a haunting look in his eyes.

He came from a middle class family in Indiana, earned a college degree and worked as a social services case management worker.  After being responsible for an accident in which the death of another person occurred, he plunged into despair and became homeless.

Graham recently found work as a social services case worker but lives in a shelter which he doesn’t like.  “It’s demeaning having to stay in a shelter.” he says.  He ended the interview by saying “You have to advocate for yourself.”

Veronica

Veronica    © Joe Ramos

Veronica © Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist

“I go to the library a lot every day and I look across the library and there’s the Bill Graham Civic Center and I look to see what’s being advertised there on their billboard.  And I look for Project Homeless Connect to come – you know, if I can come to it.  So I come here – they have it every other month I was told, so I try to make it to every one.”

Even though Veronica is not homeless and has a room in the Tenderloin she worries.  When asked what are some of the challenges she faces living in San Francisco she says:

“Homelessness.  I’m worried about it day-by-day if I’m going to have a roof over my head, you know, and income coming in.  I think about that every day, my living situation and shelter.  That’s what I have to face every day and if I’m going to get mugged – that’s about it.”

Veronica loves to draw and read and hopes to go to San Francisco City College and complete a degree in education and take art classes.

When asked to smile by the photographer she doesn’t and bluntly declares, “I want people to see me as I am.”

Charles

Charles     @ Joe Ramos

Charles @ Joe Ramos image courtesy of the artist.

Charles, a Kansas City, Missouri native was born with two sisters as a triplet and was later brought to live with an aunt.  He says he was the “wild one” and his aunt couldn’t deal with him.  His father later brought them to Los Angeles.  Charles says his father was tough with him and when he left home was when he learned street smarts.  He says “Living on the streets in San Francisco is rough.”

Charles didn’t finish school and dropped out in the third grade.  He says, “I can’t read but I have a mouth, I can talk.”  As a client and volunteer at Project Homeless Connect he’s become a familiar fixture and uses his verbal skills and jovial demeanor to procure people to have their portraits taken at the Story/Portrait area.

He declares, “ I am an American.  We forget how to be American and only worry about color of skin and going to war.  African Americans have a bad time.”

More to See

Ramos’s work can be seen this week at Alley Cat Books in San Francisco as part of the show, “A Home for the Homeless, Artists and Poets in search of an answer.”  There is a closing reception on Friday, August 26th at 6 pm.

You can also visit his website at http://www.joeramosphotography.com/

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