One of the greatest champions of public art and of the arts community as a whole in San Luis Obispo County, Ann Ream, has died. The founding chair of ARTS Obispo’s Art in Public Places (APP) Coalition, she was instrumental in the installation of so many of the sculptures and other public art objects we pass every day walking around downtown SLO.
On Friday, March 21, ARTS Obispo sent out a press release paying tribute to Ream’s legacy with many fond remembrances from the local arts administrative community. “I was honored to work with her for only a little more than two years. In that short time, she made an everlasting impact by setting an example of what an arts advocate was: dedicated, passionate and unyielding,” ARTS Obispo’s Executive Director Jenna Hartzell is quoted as saying.
Current chair of the APP Coalition Kathy Teufel, who succeeded Ream in the position, recalls Ream’s mentorship in the same press release: “Ann would welcome me to her home and fill me with as much information as she thought I could handle in one sitting, and then we would do it again. She was always happy to see me and excited to share. I will forever miss those bright eyes and engaging smile and will try to continue her legacy as best as I am able.”
No official memorial project has been announced as of press time, but the APP Coalition, San Luis Obispo Downtown Association, City Council members, and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department have all indicated a desire to commemorate the life of such an influential figure in a way that will do justice to Ream’s legacy. Let’s hope it’s with more public art, everywhere, always. Keep your eye on the streets for this remembrance, and the next time you pass a favorite sculpture or painted utility box on the streets of SLO, don’t forget you have Ann Ream to thank for that simple moment of everyday beauty. Find out more about ongoing community art projects and events at artsobispo.org.