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Cal Poly Rose Float Program collaborates on art installation in Downtown SLO

The Plaza Pop-Up program in Downtown SLO
Posted at 10:23 PM, May 08, 2021

Since December, Mission Plaza in Downtown San Luis Obispo has been hosting Plaza Pop-Up art installations.

For this month, a collaboration between the city of San Luis Obispo, Downtown SLO, Karson Butler events, as well as the Cal Poly Rose Float Program, brings art that celebrates spring and rejuvenation.

The Rose Float Program was commissioned for a three-week installation, where they will show the process behind building one of their famous designs.

“For the first week, we’re showing off our construction team: we have our mechanisms and we have our structural elements. The second week we’re showing off our design, our more intricate metal working as well as some of the paint work done. The third week (which is the 23rd of May), it will be fully decorated with fresh flowers as well as dried flowers," Avi McManus, Vice President of the Cal Poly Rose Float Program, explained.

The group designed the butterflies on a colorful selfie station in the plaza, using organic materials like bougainvillea petals and rice powder.

Amber Karson of Karson Butler Events said the butterflies and other Rose Float Program installations adhere to the rules and regulations of the Rose Bowl floats.

“Every month, now through August we’ll be selecting a different nonprofit partner to help bring their design vision and message to live. So this month, Downtown SLO is our partner for the May pop-ups," Karson said.

As part of that partnership, the Plaza Pop-Up is working with the May Flower Initiative, a program where local artists were commissioned to decorate shop windows with colorful floral designs.

The flagship program was last May, and Karson said it was so successful, they brought it back.

“We started this project in May 2020 which was a different time; it was a time of great uncertainty, and we wanted to do something because things were just so strange at that time," explained Bettina Swigger, CEO of Downtown SLO.

More than 80 businesses in the downtown are participating.

Local artist Kelly Knox has painted the windows of four different businesses. “I just hope it brings some joy to people. They told me I had a hundred percent creative freedom, so I just went for it," Knox said.