Ramona H.E.A.R.T. launches first mural project
For the past 18 months, a small group of enthusiastic volunteers has been working to bring the first mural of an ambitious outdoor art mural program to Ramona.
The mission of the Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project is “To encourage economic vitality by increasing tourism, promoting community pride, and celebrating our rich cultural heritage through an outstanding outdoor visual arts program.”
Over the months the group has incorporated, applied for its nonprofit status, loaded its board of directors with community leaders, and formed liaisons with other organizations in the area.
They have created a database of artists in the Southern California area who are experienced with outdoor mural techniques. They have created an inventory of Main Street area buildings with wall “canvasses” for murals, talked to building owners, given presentations to nearly every community group in town, and started fundraising and applying for grants.
In May, they reached a point in their evolution where they were ready to publish their first “Artist’s Call,” which is a request for proposals from muralists for the artwork, specifying the building surface, location, size, general theme and budget.
The first building for a mural had been secured with a written agreement with the building owners, and a theme for the mural is identified — a process involving discussions and consensus among the board and the owners. All the murals will follow H.E.A.R.T., an acronym coined to reflect Ramona’s location in the geographic center of the county (the heart of San Diego County). “H” stands for Historic and Hiking, “E” for Equine, “A” for Arts, Antiques and Agriculture, “R” for scenic rural vistas and drives, and “T” for Tasting of fine wines (Ramona Valley was designated an American Viticultural Area in 2006 by the federal government.)
Approximately a dozen responses to the Artist’s Call were received and reviewed, and the field narrowed down, with a final candidate chosen.
“A conscious effort was made to try to ensure a very professional artwork would be produced,” said S. Elaine Lyttleton, president of Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project. “While the H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project wants to encourage the participation of local amateurs and students in the future, it was felt that a high standard needed to be set for others to follow.”
The board was pleased to secure the talents of John and Jeanne Whalen, the artists renowned in San Diego for painting the mural of Charles Lindberg on the Commuter Terminal at the San Diego Airport. More about the artists is at www.wall-itgraphics.com
The tower area of the Town & Country Real Estate & Home Loans building at the corner of Main and 10th streets will be the location of the first mural, and the topic will be American cowboy, rodeo performer and actor, Casey Tibbs.
Tibbs lived in Ramona for part of his life and died here in 1990. San Diego Country Estates named its western equestrian center after him in ceremonies earlier this year. Tibbs was also honored at the Rodeo Hall of Fame and was featured on the cover of Life Magazine in 1951. His favorite color was purple and when he performed almost always wore a purple bandana.
The building and the topic for this mural was arrived at through months of talking with various building owners, researching subjects that reflect the H.E.A.R.T. of Ramona and would fit within a constrained budget, according to Lyttleton
“All aspects of Ramona will eventually be depicted in various murals throughout the town from current activities back through ancient native history,” she said. “The Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee, for example, has been a strong supporter of the project, which the chamber board has now endorsed. They will launch a fundraiser in the New Year for a mural sponsored by them, which they want to be a collage focusing on antiques, equine and agriculture — the main commerce of Ramona.”
The H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project has received a generous donation from the San Vicente Saddle Club for an equine themed mural, and the Ramona Food and Clothes Closet building is slated for a rendering of the old Kenilworth Inn, which once stood on that site.
The Whalen team has submitted its final color thumbnail sketch of the mural and has begun work on the mural, which consists of two panels approximately 12 feet tall by 5 feet wide.
The face of the tower, interrupted by a door and balcony, was tricky to design around, said Lyttleton. The building owner will be painting the face of the tower a soft muted green as a backdrop to the panels.
At the instruction of the H.E.A.R.T. Mural Board, the artists are using colors to fit within the palette recommended by the Ramona Design Review Board for Old Town Ramona. In the small rendering, for example, Tibbs’ purple shirt and bandana look brighter than they will appear in the final mural.
Also at the instruction of the board, each mural will have a heart embedded within it, anywhere and in any format that the artist chooses. The viewer’s task is to find it — sometimes easy and sometimes not.
The mural project hopes to be on the Ramona Village Committee’s Dec. 15 agenda. Members of the design group gave a hearty thumbs-up to the entire mural concept when it was presented to them last year.
Art in any form opens the door to controversy, but the board of the Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project offers something for everyone — to like or to complain about, said Lyttleton.
It is fervently hoped the murals will breathe life into Main Street businesses through local viewers and tourists alike,” she said.
The mural is being painted on panels, which will then be installed on the face of the tower. Completion of the mural and an installation celebration is planned for early in the New Year.
For information on how you can help or participate, contact Lyttleton at 760-787-1102.
- Plans progress for committee’s first mural project
- Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project announces its first Artist Call
- See ‘The Thing,’ aid mural project
- Design group weighs Project Ramona details
- Project Ramona talks target Main Street
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