Surreality

a silent spectator

as swarms of strangers

snap souvenir shots

suddenly I’m a secret celebrity

for a few sparkling seconds

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Hello darlings! Today I am waxing alliterative in celebration of a project I’m very proud of, so please excuse my self-indulgence. In September 2011, I was selected as a large heart artist for 2012’s “Heroes & Hearts” public art project. Benefiting San Francisco General Hospital, a level 1 trauma center that serves everyone regardless of their ability to pay, this fundraiser has been helping raise money and awareness since 2004. [Read about the history of this public art project here.]

The "night" side of the heart I painted on display in AT&T park during the Heroes & Hearts 2012 luncheon

The heart is both a symbol of San Francisco’s tolerance and acceptance, and a reference to the iconic “I left my heart in San Francisco” tune by the amazing Tony Bennett. Tony participated in the heart project in its inaugural year, and will be honored to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of that recording this coming Valentine’s Day at City Hall in San Francisco.

Guests attend the "Hearts after dark" celebration in AT&T park

I discovered the call for artists on Alan Bamberger’s ArtBusiness.com facebook fan page during the summer and submitted a rendering. When I learned I’d been selected to participate, I was thrilled! I cleaned out space in my garage and my dad helped me out by preparing an industrial dolly, which I used to turn it while working on it. The blank heart was delivered to my home in Sacramento in September of 2011. Made of steel and fiberglass, it weighed roughly 400 pounds. We were given about 8 weeks to complete them, and all-told, I probably put about 120 hours of work into it.

Fabulous "hearts after dark" celebration with DJ's, munchies, cocktails and dancing

The heart I painted is titled “All Day, All Night”. The inspiration for the design began when, on an evening in the city with my  mom, I took a photo of the bay bridge and night sky from Treasure Island. At the time, I was mulling over what to submit as my heart design. I found myself thinking of “The General” and how the hospital welcomes everyone at any hour while standing on the seashore with my mom, who also welcomes me into her home at any hour- including late nights and last-minute stayovers when I’m in the bay area. I remembered the lyrics from a ditty she used to sing to me when I was a girl… “all day, all night Marianne… down by the seashore sifting sand…” and decided to return during the day to capture an alternate image. These day and night scenes ended up on both sides of the heart, seamed by a silver lining of metal foil.

"All Day, All Night" heart by Marianne Bland in Union Square, San Francisco

The donor that selected my heart during San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s Heroes & Hearts 2012 fundraiser is Wells Fargo. Celebrating their 160th year and considering San Francisco their “home”, Wells Fargo graciously agreed to allow the heart to be displayed. It was installed at the corner of Post and Stockton streets in Union Square on February 10th, where it will remain until Labor Day of 2012.

A plaque on the base of the heart shows the donor, foundation, my name and the title

I visited the heart in Union Square today and was so excited to see it being enjoyed by the locals and tourists gathering there. I’m so honored to have been given the chance to participate in a project like this. While I can’t afford to donate huge sums of money to charities, I am able to contribute in a small way by donating artwork. The people at San Francisco General Hospital literally save lives everyday, whether or not the patients in need produce an insurance card first. To me, this is truly exemplary of how supportive and loving the community of San Francisco is. I’m so proud to be from the bay area, and this experience reaffirmed to me why the city is so special and why its neighborhoods, scenery and people continue to be the subject of my paintings.

A view of the night side of the heart facing the corner of Post & Stockton

Since it will be there all spring and summer, please stop by if you get a chance! 3 other hearts are on display at the corners of Union Square Park. [I suggest you opt for a parking garage- or bring a giant bag of change for the metered street parking. ] A big thanks to my husband for his understanding and support during the long evening and weekend hours I worked on this project, and to the rest of my family and friends for their enthusiasm and encouragement as well. Thanks to fellow heart artist John Kraft for his tips and advice along the way.

I’d also like to thank Alan Bamberger for the helpful resource and services he provides as an integral part of the San Francisco art scene- I highly recommend ArtBusiness.com to my fellow artists. And of course, thank you to the people at the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation who made this project happen. It takes a lot of work to wrangle artists, move these hearts and coordinate events like these. Their dedication helps ensure that the staff at The General has what they need to continue to serve the city and its citizens. You can donate here if you’d like to help support their efforts too.

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5 thoughts on “Surreality

  1. Marianne, this is so amazing, and so cool! You are a rock star! I hope to make it to the city sometime over summer, and will MAKE SURE that a stop at your heart is on the agenda!!!! Woot!

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  2. congratulations Marianne – terrific understanding and link through image, concept, the completion of your heart (and your words) to the General Hospital, San Francisco and the people there. awing. i probably wont get to San Francisco while your heart is on display there, if i do tho… that is… if i’m going to San Francisco, i’d like to leave a flower there. with your heart. beautiful. aloha.

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