The Date Farmers' work combines...
a colorful palette from south of the border with influences as diverse as prison tattoos and folk art. Hailing from a desert town two hours east of Los Angeles, Carlos Ramirez and Armando Lerma first met in 1998 and have been painting together ever since. Their collective name comes from the date farm that Armando's father owned where Carlos once worked, and their artwork—which includes paintings, sculptures and installations—merges diverse influences like graffiti, Catholicism, traditional revolutionary posters, sign painting, and even a dash of Hollywood. They often incorporate found objects like stickers, bottle caps and Mexican comics into paintings on corrugated metal or pieces of wood.
For their Wynwood Walls project in 2011, the duo approached their work as an art piece, not necessarily as a mural, utilizing one of their trademark characters: the barrel-chested man with crosshatched features. "We wanted the work to be instantly recognizable as The Date Farmers," Armando says. "We decided to keep it simple. It's like a self-portrait about who we are and where we come from, like a kid running away from the emptiness in the desert." The blank banner on the top right and the male figure's empty eyes speak of this emptiness in the desert's wide-open spaces. The unfinished arm echoes back to that kid, turning to art as a way to escape even if that art is far from perfect. "We are the opposite of polished," he explains.
It was The Date Farmers' first visit to Miami, and they especially enjoyed meeting some of the other Wynwood Walls artists like COCO 144. "We met some really cool people," Armando says. One of their new Miami friends, Leo, even made it onto the belt buckle, and the palm tree tattoo is a nod to one of the things Miami and the Southern California desert have in common. There's a stillness to their piece that proves you can take The Date Farmers out of the desert, but you can't take the desert out of them.