Ann Ream, local arts advocate, has died

slinn@thetribunenews.comMarch 17, 2014 

California Arts Council Director Craig Watson, left, takes in Sandra Kay Johnson’s ‘Hey, Diddle-Diddle’ in downtown San Luis Obispo in July 2012 with Arts Obispo Program Director Jenna Hartzell.


Friends and colleagues on Monday mourned the death of local arts advocate Ann Ream, who was instrumental in promoting public art in San Luis Obispo County.

“Her devotion to the arts in this community was inspiring,” said Jenna Hartzell, executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, Arts Obispo.

Hartzell said she received word Friday night that Ream had passed away.

Although the date and circumstances of Ream’s death were uncertain Monday afternoon, longtime friend Betsy Umhofer, district representative for U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, said the San Luis Obispo resident had been battling brain cancer for 11 years.

Umhofer called Ream’s death “a big loss for all of us.”

As the founding chair of Arts Obispo’s Arts in Public Places Coalition, which helps implement countywide policies for public art, Ream spent decades working with developers, construction contractors and government officials to incorporate art as part of the public landscape. During her tenure, she saw dozens of works installed around the county.

“I can’t even imagine how it could have happened without Ann,” said Arroyo Grande artist Sandra Kay Johnson, whose public art pieces include the bronze sculptures "Hey, Diddle-Diddle" and “Web of Life” in downtown San Luis Obispo.

She credited Ream with guiding her through the complicated process of bringing “Web of Life” to life.

“She saw that I got to all the meetings and was prepared for the architectural review board and the City Council meeting, a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t have a clue about,” Johnson recalled. “She was just so supportive.”

“She was dedicated, passionate and determined,” Hartzell said of Ream, a longtime Arts Obispo board member. “She will be profoundly missed.”

Ream leaves behind a husband, retired San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge James Ream, and a daughter, Los Angeles artist Andrea Bowers.

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