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.

A large-scale steel sculpture painted bright red. Loops of metal remiscent of a mobius strip. Museum beyond.Mark di Suvero: Mamma Mobius

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is thrilled to present 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. This sculpture was on view on the Museum’s lawn area from August 2020 to March 2022.

The installation of Mamma Mobius is the first installment of the Museum’s new partnership with the City of San Luis Obispo as part of the Art in Public Places program.

Maria Molteni: Seven Sisters (Celestial Subduction)

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.

Artist Camille Hoffman, wearing a white shirt and dark shorts, holds a microphone as she introduces her new sculpture on SLOMA's lawnCamille Hoffman: Storied Waters: Dreams of Bayanihan

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.

This public art piece can be found on SLOMA’s Mission Plaza lawn from June 2022 to June 2023. It changes throughout the day based on environmental conditions such as light, wind, and clouds. Ideal viewing takes place at sunset.