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In May, Art Starts with History

Posted April 27, 2023

During the month of May, we recognize Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Here in San Luis Obispo, this occasion is particularly profound, as our community has a rich history of AAPI heritage that is reflected in the artworks we’re highlighting in May’s monthly tour of public art.

In the 1870s, thousands of Chinese immigrant workers lived in SLO in a few-block area we still refer to as Chinatown. Most were employed as laborers on the railroad running along the coastal mountain range, while some also worked on major wharf construction projects on the coast. As time passed and public sentiment around Asian immigrants sadly grew negative throughout the nation, much of the local population of Chinese people departed SLO County. What remains is a complicated history that we aim to acknowledge, honor and explore.

This month, our public art tour zooms in on that chapter of our community’s history with four pieces centered on AAPI heritage. These four are among over 100 pieces of public art that are on display for our residents and visitors to enjoy. Check out our other public art tours from February, March and April to see more.