By Karen Brainard
With a band playing, refreshments and artists’ autographs, the Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Mural Project board celebrated its first mural with other residents on Saturday afternoon.
Artists John and Jeanne Whalen painted the mural of American cowboy, rodeo performer and actor Casey Tibbs on the Town & Country Real Estate & Home Loans tower at Main and 10th streets.
People came out to the corner of 10th and Main streets to view the mural and then enjoyed music by Shirthouse Bluegrass Band in the parking lot of Town & Country. Copies of a photo of the Whalens standing on the tower’s balcony between the two Casey Tibbs panels were provided for the artists to autograph.
The Whalens are renowned in San Diego for painting the mural of Charles Lindberg on the Commuter Terminal at the San Diego Airport.
Jeanne Whalen said the benefit of painting the mural on the panels is that they can work in the studio and not worry about weather conditions. The panels are about 1/8-inch thick, said John Whalen, and are bolted to the wall.
Jeanne said they enjoyed going to the Guy B. Woodward Museum to research Casey Tibbs, who lived his latter years in Ramona.
“We were able to research his accomplishments. It was so appropriate at the entrance here,” she said, referring to the Old Town location.
Judy Nachazel, vice president of the H.E.A.R.T. mural board and an artist, commended the Whalens on their work.
“They’re easy to work with. Excellent artists,” she said.
Nachazel said the mural board’s goal is to have about three dozen outdoor murals created in town.
“We’re anxious to get enough murals to become a destination,” she said. “We already have the traffic. We want them to stop.”
Nachazel added that she believes the murals will create community pride.
Elaine Lyttleton, president of the mural board, is very pleased with the first mural and said comments from the community have been very positive. The board will be meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss the next mural, she said, adding they already have some ideas.
Once the mural theme and location are selected, Nachazel will put out an artist call. The Whalens, who live in La Mesa, said they would enjoy painting another mural in Ramona.