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A photograph of African American artist Cecil Ramsey's mural of historic landmarks in Buford, Georgia, taken in 2015, shortly before its demolition. This mural was painted between 1977 and 1983 in the former Shadburn Office building, which was at that time the Tannery Restaurant. By 2015, the building was in a state of disrepair and the mural had deteriorated and been vandalized.
Like many artists, Cecil Ramsey's path to recognition wasn't easy. In school, he was thought to be slow, even mentally challenged. Over time, however, teachers, and then others, discovered that Ramsey had an innate artistic ability, a unique and intuitive talent. Determined to learn everything he could about his craft, Ramsey completed correspondence courses in drawing and painting, and worked for a time in the 1970s as a street artist in Buford. Eventually, he moved on to the Underground district of Atlanta and for many years earned his living drawing quick sketch caricatures of tourists. He is probably best remembered in Buford, however, for what might be considered as his master work, his massive mural of Buford's historic landmarks. Off and on, from 1977 until 1983, Ramsey covered the walls of the now defunct Tannery restaurant* in floor to ceiling depictions of places such as Woodward Mill; Buford's first school building, and the Bona Allen mansion. A reporter who interviewed him at this time noted that Ramsey's concentration and attention to detail were "astonishing and visionary." Eventually Ramsey's talent gained some recognition by critics and collectors, and in the late 1980s it was reported he was working on painting his memoirs for publication. These days, drawings and paintings by Cecil Ramsey are displayed and sold at art auctions and New York galleries.
Cecil Ramsey was born in Atlanta in 1933, and moved to Buford at an early age where he quickly became a local icon. He was seen all over town pulling a skate behind him which he referred affectionately to as his little bother. As a child, family members noticed that he was gifted in the area of drawing. Cecil was a self-taught artist that painted most any subject matter. He was best known for painting the murals within the Shadburn Office Building which operated as a restaurant, The Tannery, during the late 1970\u2019s and early 1980\u2019s. Cecil spoke of traveling to New York with a well know art promoter and producing work for a show there. At present, we have not been able to substantiate this claim. Cecil died in 1996 without fanfare of circumstance. His works are now being discovered, and recognition is being given to his talent and his legacy.
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