Since the public health emergency  that  has  shut  down  retail  shops  and closed many restaurants, with others offering reduced service, the vibrance of our quaint and charming city center has quieted. The normal hustle and bustle of Downtown San Luis Obispo city sidewalks has slowed while our community shelters at home. April was a quiet, rainy month, and with plans underway to move into the next phase of restrictions, Downtown SLO created the program to showcase the creativity  and resilience in our Downtown. In May, many windows of Downtown SLO will be transformed into art galleries displaying the creativity of local businesses, their employees, and local artists lending their talents  to put some cheer on display.

The May Flower Initiative launches May 1, with colorful floral artwork and displays appearing in more than 50 Downtown SLO storefront windows, with more being added throughout the month.

Downtown SLO, the nonprofit Business Association coordinated the effort, asking businesses to participate. Arts Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council, sent a call for artists, and Downtown SLO Staff matched artists with businesses.

“We are looking forward to the time when it’s appropriate to welcome all visitors back to Downtown, but for now, we just want you to take a minute to remember that spring showers bring May Flowers, and the creativity and resilience of our community shines bright even while we are not able to gather,” Downtown SLO CEO Bettina Swigger said.

The May Flower Initiative will continue to evolve through the month of May, as businesses and artists continue to become involved.  As  of  May  1,  52  businesses  have  agreed  to  participate.  The  Initiative  has been well-received.

Paula DeLay, artist, expressed her gratitude, “Thank you for organizing such an uplifting cultural event for our wonderful downtown.” DeLay’s flowers are on display at HumanKind Fair Trade and Passport on Monterey.

The Initiative has also resonated with downtown business owners and employees. Lauren Christensen, co-owner of Sidecar Cocktail Co. and The Penny, said, “I contacted our staff that are on   furlough at Sidecar and some of them are so excited and inspired by the idea. I’ve also shared with my kids who smiled so big when I told them they get to paint our windows! This will undoubtedly bring joy to all patrons who see it, but it will also brighten the day and give hope to many of our staff who really need it at this time. I don’t think we all really appreciated our downtown and its streets, its cast of regular characters, and the hum of its ‘aliveness’ until now, and the May Flowers remind us all of what was and what will be again.”

To view the May Flower Initiative completed works, visit to see a map of locations. Interested people are encouraged to view the works from the safety of their vehicle, from a bicycle, or on foot, while maintaining proper 6’ physical distancing from other people.

Downtown SLO, the organization, is responsible for coordinating many large public events, including the Thursday Night Farmers’ Market, Concerts in the Plaza, and Holiday Activities like Santa’s House and the Annual Holiday Parade. These programs are on hold until further direction is given from the State and County Departments of Public Health.

May Flower locations, as of May 1.

*Check for a frequently-updated map.

Ambiance Boutiques, 737 Higuera, “We are SLO Stronger Together” by Sadie Rogers

Bambu Batu 1023 Broad, Art TBD

Basalt Interiors 766 Higuera, “CA Poppies, whimsical, Rooted” by Heraldo Family Photo

Big Sky Café 1121 Broad, by Sara McGrath

Black Sheep Bar & Grill 1117 Chorro, “May the flowers remind us why the rain was so necessary” by @lil.nicky @jessrost

Blackwater 705 Higuera suite E, “Flowers of Hope” by Blackwater

Creeky Tiki 782 Higuera, by Christine Marie

Downtown SLO, 1135 Chorro, “We Are Downtown SLO” by Bettina Swigger, Karl Deardorff, Niesha Johnston  & SLO Repertory Theatre’s Dave Linfield

EcoBambino, 863 Monterey Street, “At Home Together” by Charlotte Bysshe

Fanny Wrappers 799 Higuera Street, “Woman is like a rose, if you treat her well, she’ll bloom” by Fanny Wrappers Staff

Frog & Peach Pub 728 Higuera Street, by Ami Lynn Usrey

Hotel SLO, 877 Palm, “Growing Forward” by Skye McLennan of SLO Film Fest

Hunter Salon, 1421 Monterey Street, by Bri Vaghn & Family

HumanKind Fair Trade 982 Monterey, by Paula DeLay

Junkgirls 870 Monterey, by Jenny Chang

Len Collective 715 Higuera, Art by Shannon Len & Staff

Linnaeas Café 1110 Garden, “Spring on Garden” by Lauren Birkhahn

Maison Marianne 970 Chorro, by Maison Marianne

McCarthy’s Irish Pub, 600 Marsh, Art by Katy McGrath

Moondoggies Beach Club 837 Monterey, Art by Jennifer Randall

Old San Luis BBQ 670 Higuera, Art by Bailey Nichole

Quaglino Properties Office 1075 Court, Art TBD

Mon Ami Crepe Bar 1075 Court Street #130, Art by Natalie Gann

Passport 968 Monterey Street, Art by Paula DeLay

Rogers Jewelry Co 720 Higuera, Art TBD

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce 895 Monterey, Art by Frank Walker

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, 1010 Broad, Art TBD

Sauer Adobe, 964 Chorro, Lynn Hessler & Merrilee Donald

Sidecar Cocktail Co., 1127 Broad, Art by the Christensen Family

SLO Children’s Museum, 1010 Nipomo, “Sun Flowers of SLO” by C.L. Smith Elementary Students

SLO Repertory Theatre, 888 Morro, Art by Suzy Newman & Lisa Langere

SLO History Center, 696 Monterey, Art by Liz Maruska

SLO Swim, 795 Higuera, “April showers bring May flowers” by Shelly Filips

SLO Yoga Center, 72 Higuera St. #200, “We are resilient” by Kaya Stackhouse

Summerland Co. 1019 Morro, Art by Summerland Co. with paper flowers from Molly Kern

Stephen Patrick Design 888 Monterey Street, Art by Catherine Panofski

The Blade Runner, 741 Higuera, Art by Joey Salazar

The Library Bar, 723 Higuera, Art TBD

The Mountain Air 667 Marsh Street, Art by Chloe Tinglof

The Penny, 664 Marsh, Art by The Penny

The Sock Drawer, 852 Higuera, Art by Jess Tringali

About Downtown SLO: Downtown SLO is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit founded in 1975 whose mission is to foster an economically vibrant Downtown. Downtown SLO serves the community by  working  on  initiatives  like parking and beautification efforts, coordinating special events and the weekly Farmers’ Market, supporting economic activities and examining Downtown issues.