He always knew he wanted to live in the gayest place in the world |
so when he had the chance he moved to San Francisco in 1972.
Efren Convento Ramirez had that ingrained belief that you have to have a college education in order to succeed in life. To do that he quit his secure job to continue his higher education. He soon learned the reality of being a "starving artist".
To subsist, Efren formed a non profit Gay Photo Workshop in his flat on the Haight but his associates, though interested in photography, discovered that they preferred being in front of the camera so they became the people he photographed. This included some of his friends who moved in from the Midwest. One favorite pastime was to spend time at Andyıs Donuts on Castro for an afternoon or midnight coffee break. Soon he was building a body of work that would form the germ for his picture book In Pursuit of Images which became his creative project for the masterıs program at San Francisco State University.
During this period his photos appeared in the many publications of the non profit Peace and Pieces Press which later became San Francisco Arts and Letters Foundation. He also contributed photographs for the gay press including the Sentinel, Bay Area Reporter, the Advocate, and the Alternate for which he also wrote some articles. In 1975 he became roommates with a few people who were instrumental in Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL), among whom were gay teachers John Stubbins, Ed Baca, Hank Wilson, and Tom Ammiano. He later stringed with Randy Shilts supplying him photos for his book on Harvey Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street. Some of Efren's photos appeared in the movie documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary Film in 1984.
With Danny Nicoletta, Rink, Sandy Graham, and Cookie, Efren formed the Gay Freedom Day Parade Slide Shows, showing their work to try to raise awareness and share the excitement of the parades within the community. Every year this group would photograph the parades and show them in the gay neighborhoods, at the Arts Center in Fort Mason, and at the annual North Beach Photo Fair in Washington Square. Later photographer Crawford Burton joined the group.
Efren Convento Ramirez received M.A. and a B.A. Degrees in Art from San Francisco State University in 1974 and 1977. He also graduated with a second baccalaureate from the Colorado Technical University in 2008 as Summa Cum Laude.
He is now a Substitute Teacher in Special Education at the secondary level in two school districts and is a parttime Adjunct Instructor in Ancient Art History at a community college. He also volunteers as English and reading tutor Adult Literacy Program at the local public library.
Some highlights of his career:
Won 4 Gold Medals and several Best of Show awards in photographic competitions and named Best Photographer 1969 in all-Chinese Taipei Photographic Society, Taipei Taiwan
Recipient of College Work Study Grant, San Francisco State University, 1973
Photographer, Pre-Columbian Art Collection, M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, 1974
Artist Grant, National Endowment for Art/Humanities, the California Arts Council, and the San Francisco Arts and Letters Foundation, Published In Pursuit of Images, 1976
Photographer, Multimedia Mime and Slide Show with France Charles Munier The Ticket, Children's Theatre, San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1977
Winner, Photojournalism Award, Bay Guardian Newspaper Photo Contest, San Francisco, 1979
Photo Credits in an Oscar Award Winning Documentary Film, The Times of Harvey Milk, 1984
Certificate of Scholastic Achievement, San Francisco City College 1990-92
His most recent achievement is the selection of his historical photograph of Harvey Milk's inauguration to be included in the "Gay Icons" Exhibit at the prestigious National Portrait Gallery in London, 2009.
EFREN CONVENTO RAMIREZ