Did you know that in San Luis Obispo, there are 100+ unique pieces of public art around town, from murals and sculptures to benches and stained glass windows? The City of SLO has long made it a priority to share art and beauty where everyone can enjoy it. Now, we’re kicking off a brand-new “Art Starts With” program to introduce you to just how much talent and creativity we have in town.
Each month, we will highlight artworks in a certain theme, and in February, Art Starts with Love! Over on our Instagram page, we’re posting videos each month that send you on a tour of a handful of art pieces around town. The works on February’s tour all were inspired by or illustrate the theme of love. Each month will bring a new theme highlighting new art, all with the goal of spreading the word about the incredible talent and inspiring work that’s right here in our community.
Be sure to follow us on Instagram, because we’re also giving away a gift card prize for a local business each month during our Art Starts With series!
Here on our blog, we’re proud to go into more detail about the artworks featured each month. This February, we’re feeling the love! Let’s embark on a tour of four local works that give you all the feels.
Stop 1: Love and Double Joy
Artist: Peter Ladochy
Location: Palm Street Parking Structure at 812 Palm St.
Located on the exterior of the Palm Street Parking Structure, this huge mosaic tile mural was designed and installed in 1997 to commemorate our city’s Chinese pioneers. As immigrants they faced prejudice and exclusionary laws, but rose above such obstacles to make major contributions to local commerce, agriculture and industry. The mural depicts many scenes within the Chinese characters for “Love” and “Double Joy,” linked by a powerful dragon in the center. Among the scenes, visitors can spot the Ah Louis Store, laborers who built the railroads between SLO and San Francisco, a boat carrying immigrants, Yin and Yang, and other detailed mosaic patterns. According to the historical marker installed by the work, the character of Love and Double Joy “symbolize the duality of the immigrants’ experience: their love for the land of their birth and joy for their hopes in a new land.”
Stop 2: Bonding Dance
Artist: Alan Riggle
Location: Marsh Street Parking Structure at 871 Marsh St.
Installed in 2002, Bonding Dance is a pair of sculptures that each hang over a doorway entering into the public parking structure at 871 Marsh Street in downtown SLO. According to artist Alan Riggle, the sculptures represent the interaction of the community, the city and nearby Cal Poly University, a dynamic and loving relationship that is sensitive and in constant flux. These messages are represented by five layers of polished aluminum, each of a separate and distinct shape with the combination bringing forth the image of three circular entities interacting symbiotically.
Stop 3: HeART SLO
Artist: Drew Davis
Location: Utility box at intersection of High and Higuera streets
When asked what his utility box mural was about, painter Drew Davis said, “‘I heaART SLO’ is the self explanatory title of my box art. My goal is to capture the vibrancy of life in San Luis Obispo.” Davis is a contemporary impressionist working primarily in oil and acrylic paints. Since beginning his art career as a teenager in 2001, he has developed a unique style of painting that brings his subjects to life with attention-grabbing color, movement and emotion. He has an active studio and gallery in SLO. The SLO Box Art project has been adding color to our city’s streets for years. The program’s goal is to contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of our community while deterring graffiti and adding to the “curb appeal.”
Stop 4: Movimiento Mundial
Artist: Robert Maja
Location: Inside the downtown public library at 995 Palm St.
Painted in 2013 by Robert Maja, Movimiento Mundial (or World Movement) spans more than 80 feet long in the atrium area of the downtown San Luis Obispo City-County Library. The bold, striking work was funded by a matching campaign between Friends of the Library and the City of SLO. Maja was born in the Dominican Republic and has painted all over the world before landing as a Central Coast resident. He was selected to install the mural from dozens of applicants. During an interview with The Tribune at the mural’s dedication, he said, “This makes me happy. When I paint this style, I feel peaceful. I feel great. … My point with this mural is (that) people around the world do the same thing: work, pay bills, go to dinner. This was my vision. This was my idea.”
That’s it for the month of love! Be sure to check back next month when we’ll take you on a tour of new artworks. In March, in recognition of Women’s Equality Month, Art Starts with Equality! We’ll highlight a variety of local works by female artists. See you then!