I’ve loved Studios on the Park since I discovered it at the 2010 Paso Robles Festival of the Arts, but I didn’t realize what a treasure it is until today, when I had an opportunity to explore art in the rest of the county . Of course, I only had a few hours to wander around San Luis Obispo on foot while my car was being maintained, so I could have missed a lot. What I did find, though, was the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. I was walking along the creek by the mission and at the end of the trail was the art museum. I was delighted to see that admission was free, so I stopped in to look around.
I’m not sure what I expected to see, but probably a lot of paintings. When I entered, the first thing I saw on the wall was a jewelry display. There were also a few paintings. I saw more paintings, sculptures and photography at the 44th Annual High School Portfolio Competition in one of the galleries. The pottery on either side in the picture below was created by Tyler Horton. The center piece was created by Clay Young. I believe you can read the signs on the frogs. I did not share the photos of the artists whose work was hanging on the wall because it was harder to capture their names along side their art. You will just have to stop in and see it.
In the McMeen Gallery I found “Just Between Us,” which ends on May 29, featuring sculpture by Lucie Ryan and Michael Reddell I did not share pictures from that exhibit because some might not think they were family friendly.
It seems the main event, Achievers: The Art of Engineering (Making Stuff that Works) drew the most visitors while I was there, and it was focused on technology — not what I was expecting to see today. I’m going to share a small part of what I saw there. I learned a lot about local inventors (some of whom only had roots in San Luis Obispo County). I was surprised to learn that some whom I’d read about in books did hail from this locale. Many have a connection to Cal Poly. First I’ll show you what I first saw.
Now, let’s peek inside.
One thing I really appreciated about these exhibits, technically challenged as I am, was reading the information on the walls to learn more about the inventors. I really had no idea who Allan Hancock was, but I’d seen his name a lot in Santa Maria, as in Hancock College and Hancock Field. I certainly did not know he had any connection with the La Brea Tar Pits, nor did I know he was an accomplished cellist who played in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. There’s more, but you’ll have to go and read it for yourself and then take a close look at the photographs of him on display.
Another exhibit featured information and photographs of Harriet Quimby, who lived in Arroyo Grande for a time before she moved on to San Francisco. You may remember that she was the first licensed female pilot in America. Unfortunately, she didn’t live too long after achieving that. Flying was still pretty dangerous back in 1911. In 1912, the day after the Titanic sank, Harriet was the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Just a bit more than a year after that, she died at an air show in Boston. You can read all about it at the exhibit.
Before leaving you to look on your own, I’ll show you one more picture that I thought captured the spirit of this exhibit.
Of course, there’s much I did not show you. If you are at all interested in technology and inventors, you will want to take in this exhibit before it closes.
At the beginning of this piece I stated that I had never realized how special Studios on the Park was until today. I guess I’d always felt that San Luis Obispo was the center of cultural life in this county and the North County just couldn’t compete. Now I know we can. The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is a wonderful resource, but it doesn’t have anything more to offer than our own Studios on the Park, except maybe its proximity to a mission and a lovely creek. Paso Robles has a river, and perhaps one day that river will be much more accessible from our downtown area than it is today.
Meanwhile, the river will be one focus of our Paso Robles Festival of the Arts this weekend. It will kick off at Studios on the Park at 5:30 with a reception and a guest lecture by art historian Jean Stern. I hope to be there, if it’s not too late to reserve my seat.