In July 2021, the Museum of Art entered into a community partnership agreement with the City of San Luis Obispo to coordinate various public art projects for San Luis Obispo for the next two years as part of the Art in Public Places Program. Led by SLOMA’s Chief Curator, Emma Saperstein, the Museum is engaging regional and national artists to complete various projects as part of the program.
The City’s Art in Public Places Program helps maintain San Luis Obispo’s community identity, connecting community members and visitors to San Luis Obispo’s shared history and cultural heritage. Currently, the City’s Art in Public Places Program consists of more than 70 unique pieces of art, ranging from murals, mosaics, oil and watercolor paintings, utility box art, stained glass, sculptures, benches, bridge railings, and more.
Click here to visit the City of San Luis Obispo’s Public Art Map and find public art near you!
Adam Parker Smith: David
Location: SLOMA Public Art Platform
Exhibition dates: April 2023 to April 2024
On April 15, 2023, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA) in partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo will unveil David, a sculpture by Adam Parker Smith, on the Museum’s lawn in downtown San Luis Obispo. The sculpture is the newest public art piece brought to the community by San Luis Obispo’s Public Art Program and replaces Camille Hoffman’s installation Storied Waters: Dreams of Banyanihan.
“The City knows that public art brings our community’s public spaces to life, helping make San Luis Obispo a place where people want to live, work and visit and providing everyone with the opportunity to experience different mediums and different artists,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica A. Stewart. “We are proud to partner with SLOMA to bring new public art pieces like this one. Parker Smith’s work challenges the norm with beauty and strength.”
Adam Parker Smith’s sculpture features the familiar subject of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 17th century sculpture of David, but here compressed into a cube the size of one cubic meter. Parker Smith is known for creating works that are often irreverent and funny, and with this work, he plays with the iconic form of classical sculpture, giving it a modern twist.
Parker Smith works across various mediums, including sculpture, video, assemblage, and collage, and is known for his contemporary takes on ancient forms. David comes out of a recent series called Crush where the artist turned iconic classical sculptures on their head. Working with a team of master carvers, Parker Smith recreated the sculpture of David using a 3D modeling program, and then compressed it into a compact cube, carved out of a Carrara marble block. The resulting work is at once familiar and distinctly unexpected.
Anila Quayyum Agha: The Greys In Between
Location: Center of the roundabout at Tank Farm Road and Orcutt Road, across from Islay Park (click here for map pin)
Exhibition dates: Oct 2022–ongoing
In exploring the intersections of race, class, culture and religion, The Greys in Between celebrates minority and immigrant populations’ contributions to our society and signifies San Luis Obispo as a community committed to being a welcoming place for all. Drawing from symbols found in South Asian art and architecture, Pakistani-born artist Anila Quayyum Agha uses her large lit sculptures to show the relationships that exist between light and darkness, fact and fiction, community and solitude. The Greys in Between honors diversity and inclusion while inviting viewers to reflect on these different states of being.
This permanent installation at the Tank Farm and Orcutt roundabout is commissioned by the City of San Luis Obispo’s Public Art Program in partnership with San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.
Anila Quayyum Agha (b. Lahore, Pakistan) received her BFA from the National College of Arts, Lahore and an MFA from the University of North Texas. For the 2019 Venice Biennale Agha was included in a collateral event, She Persists, with 22 contemporary feminist artists. In 2017, she was awarded the Glenn W. Irwin, Jr., M.D. Research Scholar Award by Indiana University. Recently, Agha received an Endowed Chair position titled Professor – Morris Eminent Scholar in Art at Augusta University in Georgia, as well as the prestigious Smithsonian Fellowship in the arts for 2021 and will be working with both SAAM and AAA in Washington DC in May 2021. Her work has been collected by both institutions and private collectors; nationally and internationally.
Camille Hoffman: Storied Waters: Dreams of Bayanihan
Location: SLOMA Public Art Platform
Exhibition dates: June 2022 to Feb 2023 (no longer on view)
Artist Camille Hoffman’s family ancestry is rooted in the Philippines, and her practice throughout her career has involved a reconsidering of misplaced personal and collective narratives in the wake of colonialism. This sculpture features the silhouettes of historic photos of Filipinxs of California and honors laborers, past, present, and future. This Bayanihan (Bayan coming from the Filipinx root word “nation”, is the spirit of community, unity, and cooperation) so deeply connected to our corner of the Central Coast, is foundational to the American story. This sculpture pays tribute to the stories and waters that connect us all.
Maria Molteni: Seven Sisters (Celestial Subduction)
Location: 1000 Block of Higuera Street, between Santa Rosa and Osos (click here for map pin).
Exhibition dates: Nov 2021–ongoing
Many a night I saw the Pleiades
risin’ thro’ the mellow shade
glitter like a swarm of fireflies
tangles in a silver braid
—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Locksley Hall
Seven Sisters (Celestial Subduction) is an ambitious mural project whose inspiration emerges from an unusual intersection of “Seven Sisters” phenomena and mythology. The beloved series of Central Coast peaks, known by this name, sparked the original idea. This piece time travels to the origin of their formation, when a sub-aquatic geologic event called “subduction” led to powerful volcanic eruptions.
In another time and space the “Seven Sisters” star cluster would pique the interest and devotion of numerous global cultures and faiths. The Pleiades, in Greek mythology, are also known as “sailing ones” or “crying stars”, said to have caused the great flooding of earth with their celestial tears. They were the seven daughters of the sea nymph Pleione, and later changed into birds to protect them from Orion’s advances. As the story continues, these seven doves flew toward the heavens and became stars that greatly aid sailors in nautical navigation. A Chumash myth of Seven Boys/Geese/Stars offers a beautiful parallel narrative. Find this mural on the back of the Fremont Theater and the accompanying Laird Building wall on Higuera Street between Santa Rosa and Osos.
Maria Molteni (They/She, b. 1983, Nashville) is a transdisciplinary artist, educator, organizer, and mystic. They received a largely formalist art education, studying oil painting, printmaking, and dance at Boston University. Molteni’s work features a systematic, intentional, and site-specific approach requiring a laborious process of paint mixing and complex design systems often rooted in cosmic quilting motifs (such as “the friendship star” and “seven sisters” patterns present in this work). They engage in extensive research to gather imagery from academic, folkloric, and mystical/spiritual sources.
Mark di Suvero: Mamma Mobius
Location: SLOMA Public Art Platform
Exhibition dates: August 2020 to March 2022 (no longer on view)
The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is thrilled to present the first installation of the Museum’s partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo as part of the Art in Public Places program. Mamma Mobius, an iconic and transcendent sculpture displayed on the Museum’s lawn. This sculpture references the Mobius band, a surface that only has one side and one edge. This work demonstrates di Suvero’s deep commitment to mathematics and science, as he intentionally finds ways to integrate a diverse curiosity into all aspects of his work.