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.

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