Heart Times in the City

By Jennifer Blot

‘Justice,’ by Andre Campbell, is emblematic of 2020, a “remarkably uncomfortable” year.

Poetic, political and purposeful, this year’s Hearts in SF sculptures don’t disappoint.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years since the first batch of big, beautiful, bespoke heart sculptures started popping up in parks and plazas across the City. The familiar silhouette that’s been interpreted in 480 different ways over the years (from postcard-esque City views and California poppies to patchwork tile mosaics and Swarovski-crystal-studded sensations) is back this year with 22 new incarnations for Hearts in SF, the public art project that melds imagination with medicine, raising much needed funds for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, while continuing to be relevant — and heartening.

Take Justice, a 5-foot-tall creation by San Francisco native Andre “Dre” Campbell. When the call for entries was announced over the summer, Campbell, a recent college graduate who had shelved his plans (at least temporarily) to pursue a professional basketball career, shifted his energy to creating a very personal piece. Campbell grew up knowing about the work of the foundation — his father is Dr. Andre Campbell, a trauma surgeon, and his mother, Gillian Otway, works in nursing administration at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center — but this year, he used the Hearts in SF platform to pay tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. For Campbell, the BLM-themed heart provides an opportunity to engage in constructive political dialogue.

Sarah Delson’s table-top heart Chance, measuring 16 inches tall, 17 inches wide and 8 inches deep, is a magnificent tactile explosion of cherry-red playing dice. For Delson, a cancer survivor who worked as an art director at a major publishing house, the three-dimensional heart touches on the theme of luck and the gambles we take in life.

Sarah Delson’s ‘Chance’ is a reflection on luck — and life’s gambles.

Works by Campbell and Delson and 20 other artists were selected from a pool of 182 entries. While you won’t be able to see them in the flesh until February 1 (they’ll be on display for two weeks in the lobby of the historic Flood Building at 870 Market Street before going on tour in spots around the City, including Union Square), you can start dreaming of nabbing one for your garden or foyer by bidding on one of the six large hearts, six tabletop hearts and 10 mini hearts. Past auctions of Hearts in SF artworks, along with gala fundraisers, have raised $32 million for the innovative projects and programs at ZSFG, the only Level 1 trauma center in the City and northern San Mateo County.

This year’s Hearts in SF gala, chaired by foundation board member Janis MacKenzie, will take place on February 11. Its virtual format means that for the first time ever, it will be free and accessible to all.

“We’re hoping it can inspire people to embrace the good work the hospital does,” says MacKenzie. “I love to say public health is everyone’s health — and that’s never been more evident than now in the midst of COVID — but we also can’t forget that for more than a century, SF General has been providing health care for all and access to all.”

For details on the program and gala, go to

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