ARTSObispo_Theodore RooseveltThe Rossi Foundation of San Luis Obispo donated $15,000 for the creation of a Theodore Roosevelt monument in the city’s Mitchell Park. In addition, contributions and pledges from other local donors in the last few weeks have brought the total funds raised to date to $50,000.

The proposed monument will recognize the visit of the 26th U.S. President to San Luis Obispo in 1903 and his subsequent three-day camping trip to Yosemite with famed naturalist John Muir.

The monument, which is still subject to review and approval by the city of San Luis Obispo, will be created by artist Paula Zima. Zima is a Cal Poly graduate whose previous public art projects include the often-photographed bear and child sculpture at Mission San Luis Obispo, and the twin-highly-visible-bear-statues that greet motorists at the gateways to Los Osos.

The cost of the Roosevelt figure is estimated at $150,000. This cost includes the bronze forging, related site improvements and installation. ARTS Obispo, the non-profit council that promotes the arts throughout the county, is the fiscal receiver for the project funds.

During Roosevelt’s tour of the West, he traveled 14,000 miles through 25 states and gave more than 250 speeches. On May 9 the president spoke to a crowd estimated at 10,000, in what would eventually become Mitchell Park in San Luis Obispo.

The youngest president ever to occupy the White House, Roosevelt, was looking ahead to the 1904 election; he also conveyed a message of conservation. As president, Roosevelt created the U.S. Forest Service and helped protect and conserve more than 260 million acres of public lands including: 150 national forests, five national parks and 18 national monuments.

Zima’s sculpture will feature a seated Roosevelt, dressed as he was a week after his visit. The piece will present Roosevelt as a charismatic naturalist, sitting among boulders and trees, and inviting residents and visitors to join the president as if in a campfire conversation.

“We’re very excited about the combination of Roosevelt as a compelling subject, Mitchell Park as a historic site, Paula Zima with her unique artistic vision, and the conversation we are stimulating with an engaged and enthusiastic public,” said John Ashbaugh, who leads the monument committee.

“We’re pleased to provided fiscal sponsorship for this community project in the city of San Luis Obispo. We have assured The Rossi Foundation, and all those who wish to donate to the project, our commitment to a quality regional asset that will add measurably to the value of the city’s public art collection, a work which echoes an important past occasion and emphasizes contemporary conservation values,” said Angela Tahti, executive director for ARTS Obispo.

Those interested in helping the Theodore Roosevelt Monument Committee by contributing to the project’s campaign may visit, and click the “donate now” button, or contact ARTS Obispo staff at 805-544-9251.