The pandemic scaled back the number of Hearts in SF on the city’s streets, but this year’s hearts are inspiring interpretations of the heartbreaking year we’ve just lived through.
The annual tradition of Hearts in SF, the placement of five-foot-tall, six-foot-wide, 400-pound heart sculptures at various locations around the city, is now on again for 2021. The hearts have arrived in San Francisco and you can go enjoy them right now in time for Valentine’s Day.
But there are only six big, full-size hearts this year because of the COVID-19 unpleasantness. These hearts are in the right place all together at Union Square from now until October 2021.
As they have been every year, the 2021 Hearts in SF are a fundraiser for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. They're being auctioned off to benefit the foundation, and this year include the above heart from artist Andre “Dre” Campbell, whose parents both work at SF General as a nurse and a trauma surgeon.
There was no fancy AT&T Park gala ceremony to premiere the hearts like in most years. Instead Thursday night’s Hearts in SF premiere was a three-hour online broadcast emceed by Renel, with a live performance by Bob Weir at the 2:00:15 mark, and a (clearly months-old) Carlos Santana performance at 2:19:45. Otherwise, most of this show was boilerplate charity speeches.
But San Francisco mayor London Breed delivers very good boilerplate charity speeches.
“Each and every one of you is an inspiration,” Breed said in her appearance, singling out frontline healthcare workers at SF General. ”Many of you are working around the clock, sacrificing time with your family, and putting your health at risk.”
That unconventional “Butterfly Heart” above is indeed the work of Charles Gadeken, known for his illuminated LED forest “Entwined” that’s currently razzle-dazzling Golden Gate Park, and the fractal sculpture “Squared” from 2018 in Hayes Valley. This is a smaller variety called a table top heart, and you can see it at the front window display of the Flood Building (870 Market Street at Powell Street).
There’s also an even smaller variety called mini hearts, like the “Dorothea Lange” heart above, on display in the same Flood Building window.
Several hearts of each size are still available in an online auction, though in the range of $1,500-$25,000 a pop. But the proceeds go to very worthy mental health and addiction programs operated by the SF General Hospital Foundation, which is not the same thing as Zuckerberg SF General Hospital.
“The hospital is an entity of the City and County of San Francisco,“ Hearts in SF chairperson and foundation board member Skyler Hudak told SFist last year. “Because it’s a city-run institution, you can’t make a donation. The foundation was born to accept contributions and then figure out how they could be distributed to inspire better patient care, more innovative programming, and to support the doctors and nurses the resources they need to be a world-class institution.”
And of course the one heart that’s always left in San Francisco, “America's Greatest City By The Bay” painted by Tony Bennett himself, remains at Powell and Post Streets permanently. The other hearts will be on public display through October 21.
Top Image: “What We Do For Love” heart by Kaytea Petro; Photo by Joe Kukura, SFist