Large Heart on Union Square, San Francisco, 2011
Pigment ink, acrylic gel medium, acrylic paint, metal leaf, Giants World Series ticket and spar varnish on canvas over a fibre glass structure with steel support and base. Large Heart commissioned by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and purchased by VISA. Was located at the Geary/Powell corner of Union Square, San Francisco, from February 10 – September 14th, 2011. The Union Square management estimated that approximately 9 million visitors saw this Heart while it was on the Square. I was commissioned by the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation to paint a Large Heart for the 2011 series of Hearts in San Francisco. This Heart was first publicly displayed at the Heroes & Hearts Luncheon in Union Square, San Francisco, on February 10, 2011, and then installed on the Square. VISA purchased this Heart – thank you VISA. See the StarkInsider video article about the unveiling of the Hearts. An interview with me is featured at 1 minute 22 seconds into the video. Also see John Darakjian’s YouTube video (an “artist’s eye” tour of the Heart).
The Heart is painted with a full color depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge and other contemporary San Francisco scenes (plus a San Francisco Giants World Series ticket)on one side and black and white film noir scenes of San Francisco from classic films on the other side. The color side was based on my painting San Francisco Heart. The films featured on the black and white side include: Cops (1922), San Francisco (1936), Sisters (1938), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Dark Passage (1947), DOA Original (1950) and Vertigo (1958). The depiction of the Maltese Falcon itself was based on the Maltese Falcon sculpture in the historic John’s Grill whose owner, John Konstin, was kind enough to grant me permission to photograph it. Actors featured on the film noir side of the Heart include Humphrey Bogart (Maltese Falcon and Dark Passage), Kim Novak (Vertigo), Buster Keaton (Cops), Edmond O’Brien (DOA), Spencer Tracy (San Francisco), Errol Flynn and Betty Davis (The Sisters). If you visit the Heart in person see how many of them you can spot!
As you scroll further down this page you’ll see a selection of photos of people at the Heart, of the Heart being installed, displayed at the Heroes & Hearts Luncheon, and in various stages of being painted, and, finally, being removed from the Square.
THE PROCESS OF PAINTING THE HEART
Here are some views of the Heart while it was in my studio during the painting process.
In painting this Heart I combined digital with traditional art media. The design was originally painted digitally using Corel Painter software, a Wacom Intuos4 pen tablet, Macintosh computer and a 30 inch Apple Cinema display. Using an Epson wide format inkjet printer I then printed the front and back images onto a total of 32 feet length of 44 inches wide coated canvas. This canvas digital print was then cut up and wrapped around the huge heart and adhered to it with acrylic gel medium. Transferring a flat painting onto a curved, almost spherical, form provided it’s own set of challenges and appreciation of the skill of clothing designers! I spent many weeks adding acrylic paint over the canvas. The paint was primarily applied thickly with a palette knife, with some brush painting as well. You can feel the impasto texture when you touch the Heart. I also added metal leaf and, as a tribute to the success of the local baseball team, a Giants World Series ticket (the World series was played as I was painting the Heart)! The whole Heart was then coated in multiple layers of spar varnish for uv and water protection.
THE UNVEILING AND INSTALLATION OF THE HEART
The following three photos were taken at the Heroes & Hearts Luncheon on Union Square, February 10th, 2011, by Aubrie Pick for Drew Altizer Photography. This fund-raising luncheon is a major annual event in the San Francisco calendar. It was here that all the Hearts were first unveiled.