San Luis Obispo

Around the Counties: Cruising the Central Coast with Sarah Linn

Bill Bouton - San Luis Obispo.jpg

This week on Around the Counties it's columnist Sara Linn's turn to tell us about the art scene in San Luis Obispo County.

July is a busy month in the area and Linn gives a few recommendations for events that will be taking place this weekend and later this month. Options. Options.

Sarah Linn

What makes San Luis Obispo County so attractive?

You've got rolling hills covered with oak trees and vineyards, golden beaches and these quaint little mission towns. There's an abundance of lovely landscapes and the weather is consistently mellow and you can't complain about that. The fresh produce is to die for. It's just a really nice place to live.

It's also very conveniently located. We're half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not only does that make it convenient for me to visit either city but that means there's a lot of people coming through with connections to either metropolis. So, there's a lot of people who live here that are either transplants or retirees from other cities which means there's a local connection to the movie industry and to the tech sector.

What are some of your favorite art venues in San Luis Obispo? Why do you particularly enjoy them?

There's a lot of great places to see and experience art.

I'd say one of my favorites includes the Performing Arts Center of San Luis Obispo, our main performance hall where all the big acts come.

An interior view of the Performing Arts Center of San Luis Obispo. | Photo: Malcolm Carlaw/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Steynberg Gallery which is a nice small gallery, has a really nice atmosphere. Actually, there's a number of smaller galleries and coffee shops that are just beautiful places that draw a lot of cool acts.

Rocky Votolato performing at Steynberg Gallery in 2007.  | Photo: Ace Armstrong/Flickr/Creative Commons

There's also the Clark Center for the Performing Arts in Arroyo grande. Up in Paso Robles we've got an amphitheater, and Studios on the Park which is an artist collective right off of the main drag.

Which art event did you last attend?

The most recent art event I attended was actually a play at The Great American Melodrama in Oceano which is a little beach community that's in the southern part of the county. They specialize in old fashioned melodramas. You know, the kind of 19th Century theater productions where you cheer the hero and boo and hiss at the villain. And so its (a) really fun, kind of rustic setting. The crowds are extremely enthusiastic and you'll run into season ticket holders who have been going there for 20 or 30 years. It's one of the cute things about this county.

The Great American Melodrama. | Photo: waltarrrrr/Flickr/Creative Commons

Do you see any art trends in San Luis Obispo County? If so what are they?

There's so many artists here working in so many different media and covering so many different subjects. It's difficult to suss out trends. I'd say the main trend I am seeing is both the number and quality of artists living and working in the Central Coast. That number has increased throughout my time here and I'm always surprised to see just how many people we have painting, sculpting and doing performance art. It's amazing how many people are based here and I think that's partially because of our location. It's (a) gorgeous part of the California coast and we're pretty conveniently located to the bigger cities.

Can you recommend any art events to the Artbound audience that are taking place soon?

  • This weekend actually coincides with Central Coast Pride which is sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast. So there's a number of events taking place. There's a drag show on Friday. There's a performance by Leslie Jordan, who's best known as Megan Mullally's nemesis on Will & Grace on Saturday. Sunday we have Pride in the Plaza which is a day-long celebration featuring music, dancing, food and fun at Mission Plaza in downtown San Luis Obispo.
  • Next week is the beginning of Festival Mozaic which is a classical music festival that's been going on for about four decades that features classical music concerts and other events throughout the county.
  • Later in the month we have the California Mid State Fair. (We) always get a lot of big music acts performing at the fair.

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Top Image: "Winter in San Luis Obispo County" | Photo: Bill Boutan/Flickr/Creative Commons

About the Author

Melody Soto is a journalist living in the San Fernando Valley.
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