How many times have you seen a heart sculpture during a walk through a San Francisco neighborhood? Have you ever stopped to wonder about the artwork and the artist? Ever wonder about the story behind all the hearts placed in the various locations of San Francisco? I remember my first heart I saw was in Union Square as a tourist. Then I saw another and another, as a roaming local, and I realized there must be more to these hearts than just a pretty art piece placement. So I investigated, which is fancy for- I Googled!
Every year various Bay Area artists are selected to join the #HeartsInSF fundraiser campaign. Each artist receives a different size heart to design. The hearts come in different sizes ranging from the iconic full size heart (like the ones pictured) to table-top sized hearts and mini-sized heart artworks with mosaics. The heart designs are then released in December annually for an art exhibit and then for auction in February of the following year.
Proceeds raised from the auction go towards the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, and it’s life enhancing programs, like the Avon Comprehensive Breast Care Center, Children’s Health Center, HIV/AIDS Division Positive Health Program and more. These hearts have become a major art staple and photo opportunity in San Francisco for everyone that comes across one. You will often see couples taking beautiful romantic pictures (Barclay Chan & Aureliana Lopes Monteiro pictured here- Union Square Area), or you will see tourists and locals getting their obligatory heart photo opps.
Ever since I learned of the charitable backstory of the Hearts in SF, it has been a personal goal to scour SF to find all the different locations. For those who have also wanted to do the same, you are in luck! I’ve supplied a map for you to make the adventure easy. You can find the locations via this google map. This map is provided by Bay Area dad, Lloyd Lee-Lim and pictured in their Hearts in SF album on Flickr is his handsome son, Benjamin Lee-Lim. You can also see in each location is a link to a picture of Benjamin posing with each heart. Benjamin’s favorite heart piece is the Polaroid Heart. He and his father got to meet the artist during the construction of the photo. The artists had requests people take various polaroids of SF for submission, so Lloyd borrowed his father’s old polaroid and began snapping pictures! To his surprise, they used some of their photos, and you can even find a polaroid of Benjamin on the heart!
You will generally see the iconic full sized heart around SF, however if you follow the map and look carefully you will also find other unique heart structures like the Pericardium Heart. This is Lloyd’s favorite heart because Benjamin found it himself. “We were driving away from the previous heart, and he yelled that he found another heart. I was skeptical, but I turned the car around and went to look. He was right”.
This activity isn’t just a fun family activity but also a great date activity that will keep you going for at least four to eight separate weekends searching and exploring all the different locations to find each unique heart piece. When you take the adventure make sure you take lots of pictures, tag us, @SFMomsBlog, and also use the hashtag #HeartsinSF!
If you find other hearts that were not listed on the map, Lloyd and Benjamin would appreciate it if you could send those locations their way via [email protected]. They are always on the search for new heart locations to add to their album.
One note: some of these hearts are located in private residences & private companies. Please request permission before snapping a photo.
Each heart is unique and beautiful in it’s own way because it comes with a story from the artist. Make sure you make time to learn the stories, because it’ll make the adventure much more meaningful.
Enjoy and Happy Hunting!
*Photos used with permission, courtesy of Barclay Chan and Lloyd Lee-Lim