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Cheese, art, and a chicken man at SLO's Art After Dark

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View a slideshow from Art After Dark and Studios on the Park in Paso Robles.

The forecast was not great for Friday night. Local weatherman/hunk Dave Hovde said it would rain, and lo, it was good. But this is not about the weather. This isn’t about what was supposed to happen Friday night. This is about art and America and some dude in a rooster costume who was holding some balloons.

Yes, that’s right. It was around 8 p.m. when I first spotted the creature climbing out of his mid-sized sedan near the Heritage Oaks Bank. Earlier that evening, I had planned on spending exactly 1 1/2 hours at Art After Dark—seeing all that the downtown scene had to offer before heading back home for some much-needed Netflix time. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure wasn’t going to watch itself.

CAT LADY:  Sara LeGrady's vibrant paintings adorned the walls of Tigerlily Salon as part of SLO's Art After Dark. - PHOTO BY JESSICA PEÑA
  • PHOTO BY JESSICA PEÑA
  • CAT LADY: Sara LeGrady's vibrant paintings adorned the walls of Tigerlily Salon as part of SLO's Art After Dark.

First stop: Fromagerie Sophie. Writing ain’t easy. It requires a hearty regimen of healthy eating, rigorous exercise, and vigilant dedication to the sleeping-in-late-in-footie-pajamas arts. As a result, cheese is necessary. I had to fuel up before the arduous evening could take its course. Fromagerie did not disappoint. Laid out on their table was a most decadent spread—creamy cheeses, hard cheeses, cheeses I can’t pronounce the name of. Things were looking up.

Then, I put on my glasses. Sometimes it’s hard to see when you’re blinded by the scent of a robust Wensleydale. When I placed those new, sturdy, and I might I add, super good looking frames on my face, my enemy was looking right back at me.

It was a whale.

Don’t like ’em. Never have. They hog the ocean like Alex Trebek hogs all the answers to the universe in that Canadian head of his. Basically, they are a waste of space. But there one was—the tail of it—staring me dead in the eye because someone, Sylvia Sanchez, had taken a photograph of it. I was forced to admit, though it pained me deeply to do so, that the photograph was not bad. In fact, all of her photographs, from vibrant Italian vistas to sun-soaked beachscapes, struck me as most impressive.

Back to the chicken.

I hadn’t met him yet, but our paths would cross soon. My hour and a half was winding down slower than I thought it would. The crowds just weren’t as bumpin’ as they usually are on the hard streets of downtown San Luis Obispo.

Aimless and crestfallen, I wandered through the streets alone, looking for anything and anyone. Apparently, there was a Chinese dragon dance in front of SLOMA. I missed it; all was lost.

There was some comfort over at Linnaea’s. Drew Davis’ paintings shook up my somber eve with their arresting, impressionistic scenes of ships, sea, and jazz.

There were nearly 30 venues that night for Art After Dark. I had made all of three in the time in the time it takes Alex Trebek to shut a stupid man down. FYI: That’s pretty quick. You could say I was feeling pretty confident. I could say I say the same thing.

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER:  Out of the shadows of Heritage Oaks Bank, a man emerged in a chicken costume carrying some balloons. Just your average Friday night. - PHOTO BY JESSICA PEÑA
  • PHOTO BY JESSICA PEÑA
  • WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER: Out of the shadows of Heritage Oaks Bank, a man emerged in a chicken costume carrying some balloons. Just your average Friday night.

I waltzed into Tigerlily Salon to see the work of Sara LeGrady on display. Hot mama, were these paintings on fire! They had verve; they had vigor; they had a purple cat!

After swiping some free grub, I was on my way out, back to the car to relish the night’s success. And then, it emerged.

A car pulled into the parking lot on my left. No biggie. That’s what cars do. But what was inside?

The car stopped. A man got out, but a chicken he became.

I hid behind a tree, so I could catch a glimpse without him seeing. He picked up a bouquet of balloons, checked himself in a window, and out he went, down the street for what I could not imagine.

Was he a serial killer? An animorph? One of those pranksters of the Ashton Kutcher variety?

All I know is that, at the end of the night, someone at Granada had those balloons. Chicken man was nowhere to be seen, gone into the rainy mists until another Friday night.

 

Jessica Peña is still on the hunt for the chicken man. Send tips to jpena@newtimesslo.com.

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