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All You Need To Know About San Luis Obispo's Art Scene
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All You Need To Know About San Luis Obispo's Art Scene

Not only is San Luis Obispo a town full of beaches, hikes, and awesome activities; it also boasts a rich art scene.

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5 min read

March 17, 2022

San Luis Obispo has all the ingredients you need for an art-filled getaway. The county’s unique background, idyllic location, and diverse communities make its galleries, museums, and theaters some of the best to visit in the Golden State. Wondering where to go to see the best of San Luis Obispo’s art scene? These are the top arts and culture centers showcasing both local and international talents. Get ready for a blissful cultivation of ideas to hit you right away!

Best San Luis Obispo Art Museums and Galleries

The San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is the heart of the California Central Coast art community and a vital link to the cultural life of the region.

San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

It’s only fitting to start an article about San Luis Obispo art with S.L.O.M.A. Officially known as the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, this snug space in Downtown S.L.O. serves as the heart of the California Central Coast art community. With a focus on highlighting contemporary California artists, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is a free art gallery in California that welcomes visitors to witness paintings, sculptures, photography exhibits, and more creations in its three gallery spaces.

What’s more? This San Luis Obispo art museum also offers lectures, trips, film nights, youth and adult art classes, concerts, and art events. No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll find something of interest to you at this awesome S.L.O. art center

Art Center Morro Bay

Art Center Morro Bay is one of the largest contemporary galleries on the Central Coast. Featuring several exhibitions, events, and programs throughout the year, this San Luis Obispo art gallery keeps both residents and visitors engaged and interested in local and regional art. Art Center Morro Bay also offers many opportunities to purchase beautiful paintings, cards, prints, sculptures, jewelry, and more throughout an array of venues. If you ask us, artwork makes the perfect souvenir to take home from Morro Bay.

Based on the Central Coast of California, EDNA Contemporary showcases artwork by exceptional emerging to established artists.

EDNA Contemporary Art Gallery

Another incredible San Luis Obispo art gallery highlighting local talent is EDNA Contemporary. Showcasing art by both emerging and established artists, this S.L.O. art center works with private collectors, interior designers, architects, and other creatives to source and commission artwork for public and private spaces. EDNA Contemporary strives to be the connecting point of collectors, artists, and community in the region—you can definitely feel the passion for that mission as you walk through the space.

Chris Burkard Studio

Looking to add a photography spot to your San Luis Obispo art tour? Visit accomplished photographer, explorer, and author Chris Burkard’s studio in Pismo Beach. Aptly named Chris Burkard Studio, the photographer’s gallery is layered by travel, adventure, surf, and outdoorsy subjects. You can purchase prints of the untamed, powerful landscapes captured by Burkard. And if you’re lucky, you might run into him at the gallery space as well.

Studios on the Park

Studios on the Park is a non-profit in Paso Robles dedicated to providing a creative and educational experience to enhance visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the visual arts. Engaging the San Luis Obispo County community and visitors with a unique open studio environment, this San Luis Obispo art space features regional, national, and international artists working in a variety of media.

Top San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Spaces

The Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo is a modern performance venue comprising the Christopher Cohan Center and the Alex and Faye Spanos Theatre.

Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo

Nothing fills your soul with enough motivation and desire to create like attending a good live performance. While performers themselves are majorly responsible for the effect a show has on the audience, having a good venue to showcase their talents definitely takes the experience to another level. When we think of world-class venues in Central California, Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo (PAC) comes to mind.

Located on the beautiful campus of California Polytechnic State University, PAC consists of several venues transcending all boundaries to enrich the cultural lives of theatergoers. Attend a concert, recital, or play and you’ll immediately understand our appreciation for this performing arts spot in San Luis Obispo.

Vina Robles Amphitheatre 

How about an outdoor show in Paso Robles? Make Vina Robles Amphitheatre your next destination of choice for your live music ventures. After its opening in summer 2013, this performing arts theater in San Luis Obispo became one of the largest outdoor venues in the region. Featuring a style symbolic of California missions, the amphitheater allows guests to immerse themselves in an intimate concert at this venue, paired with modern amenities and first-class hospitality.

Located in the heart of Downtown San Luis Obispo, the Fremont Theater is a historic movie theater built in 1941.

Fremont Theater

No theater in San Luis Obispo is as iconic as the Fremont Theater. Located in the heart of the downtown area, this historic theater has been entertaining S.L.O. residents and visitors alike since 1941. Full of rich, art deco charm, this performing arts theater in San Luis Obispo has hosted everything from iconic movie screenings to famous rock stars. Whether you attend to watch a film or see your favorite band live, you’ll have a grand experience at the Fremont Theater.

Best San Luis Obispo Art Installations 

Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard

The Cal Poly Architecture Graveyard is exactly what its name suggests: A hodgepodge of deserted experimental structures designed by university students. You’ll find a whole range of sculptures at this makeshift outdoor San Luis Obispo art museum, ranging from sculptures to semi-houses. Visit, walk through the structures, and don’t forget your camera—you’ll find plenty of photo ops at this unconventional spot. 

Bruce Munro: Light At Sensorio is a light show on rolling hills with fiber-optic stemmed spheres that change colors.

Bruce Munro: Light at Sen­so­rio

Artist Bruce Munro’s giant light show in Paso Robles is a thing of Instagram dreams. The stunning exhibit at Sensorio spans 15 acres of rolling hills with fiber-optic stemmed spheres that give you an illusion of color-changing subtle blooms. As Munro’s largest exhibition to date, this immersive San Luis Obispo art installation will leave your jaw on the floor. Pro tip: visit after dark to see the installation in full effect.

Various Spots in Downtown S.L.O.

Gigantic murals, intricate mosaics, unique sculptures—Downtown San Luis Obispo is home to all kinds of vibrant artworks by local and international artists. Constantly flourishing with different kinds of additions, Downtown is a great spot to see San Luis Obispo art on your own terms. 

Go on a self-guided walking tour, snap pics of your favorite art installations, and find your next favorite San Luis Obispo artist. Some of our must-sees in the area include the Chumash Pictographs, the Seven Sisters and S.L.O. Irresistible murals on Higuera Street, and the Hippos in front of the mission.

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