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 DowntownSLO.com/mayflowers 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 DowntownSLO.com/mayflowers 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
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.