Born Lolita (Helmers) Ramos and shortened to “Leta”
July 31, 1934- March 5, 2020
Leta was born in Auburn, CA and moved to Sacramento as a child. She attended McClatchy High School where she met and fell in love with Mel. They married in 1955 and were married for 63 years before Mel’s passing.
Leta and Mel both attended Sacramento State University, where Leta earned a B.A. in Education. She taught 1st and 2nd grade, dedicated to teaching her students to read. Her second “profession” was to as a model and she posed for Mel for decades. She was his muse and his inspiration.
After raising three children, Leta went back to school, attending Cal State University, Hayward, where Mel was a professor. She attained her B.A. in Painting and Photography, studying under many of his colleagues, but also learning from her husband. She did very well in his class!
Leta had many exhibitions of her work, originally painting portraits, still life and memories from her childhood. She received much praise for her paintings and drawings of “Artist’s Portraits and Palettes”, which she exhibited at the Oakland Museum, SF Museum of Modern Art, LACMA, Palm Springs Desert Museum and Collectors Gallery in Oakland.
Her later work, which was her most passionate, was a collaboration with the talented disabled artists at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland. She incorporated the artist’s own work in her portrait of the artist themselves. It was her finest work and demonstrated her huge, compassion heart.
Leta received awards from California Arts Council and the Wilma Rice Photography Award. Her work is included in the permanent collections at The Oakland Museum, The DiRosa Foundation, Mills College, Southland Corp. in Dallas, and Bank of America in San Francisco.