New public art on Traffic Way

After six weeks of work owners of THE ARTery, Bobbi Nunez and Zoe Arkfeld, and artist Marian Galczenski announced the completion of a new mural at 5890 Traffic Way.

Murals at the location have followed a loose annual renewal schedule over the last six years, explained Nunez. The last stayed up a bit longer than usual, in part due to trouble finding an artist, then delays in Galczenski’s availability. The artist noted it took roughly twice as long to complete, working only until noon daily, to to avoid harsh summer temperatures.

The public is invited to an open house event on Friday, Aug. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m., to meet Galczenski.

As a privately funded and curated art project, publicly displayed, they’ve had to be careful about the space being construed as a business sign or advertisement and choices about the artists they support, Nunez added.

That’s not to say that the project doesn’t literally say something. Titled, TREE CITY, after one of Atascadero’s nationally recognized monikers, the words are spelled out in semaphore alongside maps representing the city’s downtown and a parcel map of surrounding areas.

In the announcement Galczenski, who taught a mural course with the Cuesta College Art Department, explained her philosophy of design, “Public art is a direct form of dialogue with the community. It brings art into the daily lives of a neighborhood.”

Asked about the use of semaphore code, she expanded, “It’s something I’ve used a lot in my smaller paintings and [works on] paper. It does get the viewer to stop and ask what it means. Atascadero is a national tree city with many protected oaks; the other images represent that.”

While her academic resume would list the work as another example in her, “use [of] stylized visual constructs of communication that explore semiotics (the study of signs) and have been featured at the New Museum in New York City, and museums and galleries in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco,” Galczenski added that the opportunity carried personal meaning as a long time Atascadero resident, and she wanted the symbolism to express the corner’s unique spot in the city. Other elements of the design for the 50 foot wall are the oak trees themselves, images of other wildlife and nature, abstract patterns.

Galczenski went through a similar process identifying local themes for her public art project about San Luis Obispo County, titled “County,” which has been on permanent display at the San Luis Obispo County Government Center. Several of the large murals designed by her students at Cuesta College, including one visible from Highway 1, are still on campus, she added, “but I was more like a team leader for those. The students did almost everything.”

Nunez had some familiarity with Galczenski’s work from those days.

“I met Marian something like 27 years ago,” Nunez said, “She was a teacher of mine. She’s retired now and we reconnected and talked about the space. To be honest I was a little surprised she was willing to take it on.”

As for why the business has been willing to provide an artist’s stipend and supply materials for such a large display, going so far as to have it redone so often, the resigning is split.

Partially it’s in line with their vision as a fine arts supplier but also out of necessity.

“The heat coming through that wall can be pretty brutal,” she said. “The sun has been enough to peel even spray paint. That doesn’t usually come off.”

With that in mind, TREE CITY will likely stay up through next summer into spring.

The Aug. 10 open house is not the only event hosted at the art supply and framing shop, for information go online to: For more information about the artist and her work, visit

Video News
More In Home