After more than a year of uncertainty, isolation and change — The Gala Pride and Diversity Center’s Plaza Pop-Up installation “Love Notes” is bringing the community together to celebrate love, belonging and Pride the entirety of June.

“We’ve been overjoyed at how the Plaza Pop-Ups have been drawing people into our downtown,” said Molly Cano, SLO City Tourism Manager. “The Pride Center created a unique installation that further enhances that vision, bringing people of all walks of life together to enjoy art created by and for the community.” 

This vibrant, immersive installation is the third of a series of month-long activations that will be adorning Mission Plaza through summer. Each Plaza Pop-Up will feature a different cultural nonprofit who, through funding by the City, will create an art installation unique to the nonprofit’s mission. The City has tapped Karson Butler Events to support the activations, as they were a key partner in Light Up Downtown over the holidays — the inspiration for Plaza Pop-Ups. 

During the month of June, residents and visitors alike are invited to experience “Love Notes” in Mission Plaza which includes a walk-through structure as well as a photo board backdrop. More than 150 community members participated in painting the individual pieces over many weeks, coming together for the two large scale installations. 

The centerpiece structure is a rainbow colored construction of six separate 4 x 4 ft. hanging wooden frames that have been painted by various artists, students and community members. The two rows of three hanging wooden frames were designed for visitors to walk through and around the structure, but also have the ability to see and acknowledge other community members visible through the wooden frames, on other sides of the piece. 

“We are so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate Pride in an immersive and innovative way,” said Lynn Schmidt, Art Curator for The Gala Pride and Diversity Center. “I am hopeful that as the community came together for the creation of ‘Love Notes’, they will also come together to appreciate the art as well as each other.”

The inspiration for “Love Notes” originated from a recent trip that artist Lynn Schmidt took to Oakland, California. There, she witnessed a community for transitional youth celebrate their successes through “Spirit Boards” — wooden planks, designed and decorated by the students. This feeling of inclusion, celebration, and acknowledgement of love and support for one another seemed like the perfect opportunity and outlet for the central coast community to come together after a long and trying year for everyone. 

More than a hundred hand-painted boards were used to create an additional installation located at The Gala Pride and Diversity Center at 1060 Palm Street, and an image of the large-scale piece is in Mission Plaza as a selfie wall backdrop. Visitors can head over to the Pride Center to see the original piece.

In addition to weaving their mission to “support and empower people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions” into the vision for the installation, the Plaza Pop-Up also includes a history of Pride on the Central Coast as well as information and resources for anyone interested to learn more about the Gala Pride and Diversity Center.