Although the sixteen 20-foot bamboo lanterns that now stand outside Civic Center in an art installation called "Peace All Year Round" will last only through March, the spirit of the artist's message, we can hope, may well outlast his work.

Dedicated yesterday to coincide with the Lunar New Year, "Peace All Year Round" was created by the Hong Kong artist Freeman Lau and also serves to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong special administrative region after its sovereignty was transferred from the UK to China. Lau's work is sponsored by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office and was organized by the Asian Art Museum, SF Rec and Parks, and the SF Arts Commission.


“As we saw with the very successful rabbit installation this year, large-scale temporary art has the power to catalyze the community and invigorate our public spaces,” says Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny wrote in a press release, referencing the large inflatable sculptures erected last spring, which required a full-time guard. “Freeman Lau has created a beautiful tribute to the Chinese American experience, and an artwork that can be experienced on many levels, day and night. We are grateful for the generous sponsorship of this project by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office.”

Lau's bamboo lamps are made to resemble vases, which is a sort of pun. "In Chinese, the sound of 'vase' (花瓶 Hua Ping) is the same as 'safe and peaceful' (平安 Ping An)," the Arts Commission explains.

The vases bear the names of early Chinese migrants to the area who adopted transcriptions of their name in an act of assimilation. "This art installation symbolizes not only the history of Chinese descent in the States," Lau writes in an artist's statement, "but also a blessing of “家家戶戶歲歲平安Jia Jia Hu Hu, Sui Sui Ping An - peace all year round for every family.”

Amen to that.

Related: Renowned Sculptor Sarah Sze Withdraws Chinatown Public Art Project Where Space Was Promised To Different Entities

Freeman Lau via Facebook