Introducing the 2023 Hearts in San Francisco Artists
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (SFGHF) is pleased to announce the 26 artists selected to participate in the Hearts in San Francisco 2023 public art project supporting excellence in patient care and innovation at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG).
“We are absolutely thrilled by this year’s Hearts artists,” Kim Meredith, CEO of SFGHF, said. “They include professional and amateur artists working across a variety of mediums, all coming together to showcase the diversity, resiliency, and vibrancy of the San Francisco Bay Area community. From established artists in public art and burgeoning young creators, to a staff member and a former patient at ZSFG, this year’s ‘Heartists’ demonstrate the power of art to connect us, inspire us, and heal us. We couldn’t ask for more uplifting themes as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Zuckerberg San Francisco General.”
The 2023 Hearts in San Francisco series will include six large heart sculptures, eight tabletop heart sculptures, and ten mini heart sculptures, plus an additional large heart created by featured artist Sirron Norris and ten special hearts commemorating the 150th anniversary of ZSFG (announcement forthcoming).
From staff, a family member, and a volunteer to an artist who received life-saving care at the hospital, several of this year’s participating artists have close ties to ZSFG, its mission, and commitment to community. Among them is Nora King, who works as a registered nurse in the ICU at ZSFG and embraces art for its therapeutic qualities.
“My idea is to create an anatomical heart on the heart itself and surround it with a bright burst of rainbow colors,” Nora said. “Rainbows come after rainstorms, and symbolize hope. After spending the past two-plus years taking care of Covid patients in the ICU, I feel like there is some calm and brightness in the air after the storm of this pandemic. Also, I feel that rainbows symbolize inclusivity and diversity. Every day I see my coworkers all around the hospital focusing on making each other and all of our patients feel important, cared-for and included.”
The core series of 24 hearts will be among the 35 total heart sculptures to be auctioned at SFGHF’s annual Hearts in SF gala, which will take place on February 9, 2023 at San Francisco City Hall and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Zuckerberg San Francisco General. The core 24 hearts will go on display in January 2023 at the San Francisco Ferry Building. The additional 10 hearts commemorating the 150th anniversary of ZSFG, along with featured artist Sirron Norris’s heart sculpture, will debut at the Hearts in SF gala.
Hearts in San Francisco is one of the most widely recognized public art projects around the world. Since the project’s inception in 2004, San Francisco Bay Area artists have created more than 500 hearts that have gone on display all across the city of San Francisco and beyond, from Union Square to the lobbies and conference rooms of corporate supporters throughout the state, including Bank of America, Genentech, Intel, Kaiser, Twitter, and Wells Fargo. Each heart is a unique, one-of-a-kind work of art and celebrates the diversity of San Francisco through designs made of acrylic paints, mosaic art, mixed media sculptures, and more.
Hearts artists will be sharing their progress on their sculptures on social media. Follow SFGHF and the hashtag #HeartsinSF on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn for updates.
For interviews with this year’s artists, contact Erin Fogg, SFGHF Press Contact, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (831) 515-6403.
LARGE HEART ARTISTS
Wendy Ackrell, San Francisco — “Labyrinthine Heart”
San Francisco-based artist Wendy Ackrell has worked as a painter for over two decades, primarily exploring abstraction but returning to figuration in recent years. Originally a writer, she incorporates fiber art, poetry, and mixed media into her work. Wendy is of the firm belief that joy in the act of creation — and the wonder in alchemizing the quotidian into something precious and perceived anew — is a resounding yes to life. She is currently investigating kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair, both as an artistic metaphor and a celebration of resilience. Wendy received her B.A. in English from Duke University. She currently studies at The Alternative Art School, an online community of artists founded by art writer and curator Nato Thompson.
Dyna Beach, San Rafael — “My City”
Dyna Beach is a painter and illustrator born and raised in the Bay Area and currently residing in Marin County. She holds a BFA from the Academy of Art with a focus in Illustration. Painting and creating have always been a natural way for her to get her thoughts out on paper and relax. Most of her inspiration comes from places and people she loves, food, nature, and her English Bulldog. She enjoys using different materials to keep her workflow fluid and avoid any dreaded artist’s block. You might find her drawing on her iPad, sketchbook, or tablet, or painting with acrylic, but watercolor is her true love.
Skye Becker-Yamakawa, Sunnyvale — “The Bees and Butterflies”
Northern California artist Skye Becker-Yamakawa was born in Redwood City, California in 1974. She grew up happily surrounded by a wealth of inspiration as a child, taking pleasure in classic cartoons, crayons, comic books, nature, and fashion magazines. Skye was educated with a Bachelors of Arts with a minor in illustration from San José State University. She has been painting full time for over 20 years, exploring many different genres of art and traveling to Europe to study the masters. Many of Skye’s works are celebrated in art leagues and associations around the Bay Area. She has been featured on the covers of southern California entertainment magazines and shown in the Los Gatos Art Museum. Recently, Skye completed a mini mural for the City of Sunnyvale, painting a utility box for the Great Box Cover-Up.
Jill @ www.floraandsteel.com, San José — “Dancing in Love”
Jill @ www.floraandsteel.com is a mom, partner, friend, ally, and artist. Her creative life began when she was raising her three children as she traveled the universe through their growth in ever-expanding views filled with glorious ranges of compassion, palettes and hues. Today her grown children are out in the world creating their own life works and she fortunately spends a substantial portion of her days creatively tied to the gravitational pull of the planets and seasons while following wherever love and kindness take her hands, heart, and soul.
Ari Takata-Vasquez, Oakland — “Emerge”
Ari Takata-Vasquez is a multidisciplinary artist working and living in Oakland. Her passion for cities and place-based interventions drive her practice. As an artist and creative, she is able to blend her experience in architecture and urban design to create beautiful work intended to delight and give space a sense of identity. Growing up in Kapolei, Hawaii, Ari is inspired by nature and thrives when incorporating elements from her Puerto Rican, Japanese, and Black heritage.
Josh Zubkoff, San Francisco — “Windows into the Art”
Josh Zubkoff is an artist whose versatile work explores the intersection of pop culture and profound meaning. He is the Creative Director and Co-founder of Looking Up Arts, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to large scale art installations. His focus is on public art, seeking to expand the place of art in daily life and to find innovative ways to bring interactive art into the public sphere. His monumental sculpture “Rainbow Bridge” was featured in Art Basel Miami after debuting at Burning Man 2018, and featured at EDC Las Vegas, BLINK Cincinnati, EDC Orlando, and Liverpool’s River of Light. His 2017 installation “Phoenicopterus Rex” debuted at Burning Man 2017 and received coverage from Rolling Stone, USA Today, National Geographic, W Magazine, and more. Along with his team at Looking Up Arts, Zubkoff built the Pink Torch used since 2020 in a ceremonial procession leading to the lighting of the Pink Triangle atop Twin Peaks. Zubkoff received his Studio Art degree from UCSB in 2003.
TABLE TOP HEART ARTISTS
Design Girl Magic, San Mateo — “GiveLOVE”
Val Margolin and Cristina Chavez are Design Girl Magic — a creative team with over 20 years of collective experience as professional graphic artists. They both hold BFA degrees in Graphic Design from RISD and Cal State San Bernardino, respectively. Val is originally from Detroit and has lived in the San Francisco area for almost 20 years. Cristina was born in Chicago and raised in Southern California. She became a new transplant to the Bay Area in 2020. Design Girl Magic are strong, complex women of color who live and breathe art. Their mission is to take part in meaningful projects that promote community engagement and social awareness, insight change, encourage interaction and involvement, and inspire creativity. They have done work with the Paint the Void project and San Francisco Creative Corp. And they participated in the inaugural Let’s Glow SF event — an annual projection mapping project sponsored by the Downtown SF Partnership.
Taiko Fujimura, San Francisco — “Symphony”
Taiko Fujimura is a mixed-media artist based in San Francisco. Currently, she focuses on painting with acrylic, watercolor, and ink on a variety of surfaces. Her work is strongly influenced by Japanese wabi-sabi and Japanese calligraphy, which she has studied since the age of six. Her pieces seek to bridge the contradictions around us where two opposites coexist through unifying space. The concepts she explores include peacefulness, harmony, unity, and universality. Between 1999 and 2001, she studied fine arts at the San Francisco Art Institute and graphic design at the California College of the Arts with scholarships and awards. Her works have appeared in collections and exhibitions including the de Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco. She has also shown internationally at Hirafuku Museum of Art and Denshokan Museum in Akita, Japan.
Charles Gadeken, San Francisco — “Low Poly Love in a Meta World”
Charles Gadeken is an industrial artist who has worked in the Bay Area for over 25 years. His monumental interactive public artworks reimagine the world “post-nature” and include commissions from Burning Man, Insomniac Events, Coachella, Absolut Vodka, the Cities of Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Reno. He has exhibited internationally and been featured in the Wall Street Journal. Skilled in the manipulation of metals, Charles makes copper, bronze, and steel pieces of varying dimensions and functionalities — from a tabletop fire flower that illuminates an intimate space to a 30ft tall LED weeping willow tree that graces a public plaza. Charles is dedicated to increasing artistic community and public awareness of art. Many of his pieces are interactive, encouraging spectators to become participants in the artistic experience.
Anna Kim, Foster City — “Golden Gate Park”
Anna Kim, a Filipino artist, has been passionate about art since she was a child. Her abstract landscape paintings are vibrant with striking textures, movement, and depth. Other than painting, she has been a photographer, wood sculptor, and a cake artist. Her works have been acquired by corporate businesses and private collectors locally and internationally.
Nora King, San Francisco — “Open Heart”
Nora King is a Registered Nurse, originally from Gainesville, Florida, who lives in San Francisco and works in the Medical/Cardiac ICU at Zuckerberg San Francisco General. She is a member of the Medical Emergency Response Team and fills in as a relief charge nurse. She began creating mosaic art in high school and mostly uses ceramic tile, including shattered plates and bowls given to her by coworkers. She finds mosaic work therapeutic and hopes her art can benefit others. She is proud to be part of the ZSFG team that values equity, diversity, and compassion.
Donna Lau, San Francisco — “Chinatown Strong”
Donna Lau is a native San Franciscan and second generation Chinese American. She is retired after a successful 35-year career in customer care. As a breast cancer survivor, Donna has dedicated her time to “paying it forward” by volunteering at UCSF’s Patient and Family Cancer Support Center as well as supporting Art for Recovery patients. In recent years, she has leveraged her ability to see natural hearts in everyday life by pursuing her passion for heart photography. Her heart images inspire others to live in the present moment and serve as constant reminders that we’re always surrounded by love. Having learned the benefits of art therapy in the healing of cancer patients, Donna is excited at the opportunity to showcase her own art on a heart for Zuckerberg San Francisco General. She hopes her heart art themes inspire others to be in community.
Judith Lippe, Palo Alto — “Sun Kissed San Francisco”
After years of fine art training, Judith Lippe’s professional career in interior architectural design helped create her artistic direction. Judith’s art includes using iconic images of cities, bridges, and urban skylines as well as serene triptychs of color field landscapes. All are colorfully designed to create a reflection of the urban existence at its visual best. She studied Interior Architecture at California College of the Arts and the Harrington Institute of Interior Design and holds a B.A. in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College.
Julie Meridian, San José — “Renew”
Julie Meridian captures the essence of people and places through representational art that reveals impressionist details. Her art often highlights moments of contemplation and peaceful solitude. Natural and unassuming poses create a sense of being truly present. Her solemn eye for truth is brightened with glimmers of gentle optimism. Julie primarily works in richly layered acrylic with forays into watercolor, ink, and charcoal. Her influences include the human drama of Artemisia Gentileschi and Caravaggio, the editorial work of William Hogarth and Thomas Nast, and teachings of contemporary artists Wayne Jiang and Joanne Beaule Ruggles. As an artist in San José, Julie also humanizes technology as a user experience designer. She occasionally uses computing concepts as a starting point for artistic reinterpretation.
MINI HEART ARTISTS
Barbara Bussler, Groveland — “Heart of Rocks, with Love”
Barbara Anne Bussler was born and raised in the 1960s in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. Through art classes in school and traditional crafts at home, she tried a wide array of techniques and materials over the years but found her real passion in creating mosaics. Since taking an introductory course in Half Moon Bay in 2001, Barbara has made and studied mosaics intensively, taking classes in the U.S. (at IMA under Laurel True and at the yearly American Mosaic Conference) and in Italy (to study the traditional Ravenna Method under Luciana Notturni, as well as contemporary mosaics under Giulio Menossi and Dino Maccini). Her mosaic work incorporates mixed media, including discarded, collected, or recycled materials as well as precious glass or gold smalti. She is a member of the Full Spectrum Mosaic Artists of Silicon Valley, the Society of American Mosaic Artists, and the Deutsche Organisation fuer Mosaikkunst, and a regular volunteer at FabMo in Sunnyvale.
Ridhaan Desai, Mountain View — “Say Treeees”
Born in Palo Alto, CA in July 2013, Ridhaan Desai has always been a happy child artist, full of creativity, colors, and imagination without ceiling. In the center of all his creations, there is always love for people, humanity, earth, and empathy, even at a very early age. He currently studies in 4th grade at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, CA, enjoys art class, and never misses any opportunities to participate in art contests or festivals. Raising funds with his “Corona Circus” Mini Heart in 2022, he was at the time the youngest artist ever selected for the Hearts in San Francisco public art project. His painting “A 6-year-old Me in Corona Lockdown” was displayed in the International Museum of Children’s Art, Oslo, Norway, in May 2020. Ridhaan was recently honored by the Golden State Warriors as the youngest Impact Warrior awardee ever for his contribution to Community and Climate Action.
Daniela Friedmann, Mountain View — “Earth Mother Heart”
Daniela Friedmann was born and raised in Bucharest, Romania. After moving to Mountain View, CA with her husband in 2002, she decided to pursue an old dream: to dedicate as much time as possible to drawing and painting. With a lifelong love for the outdoors, observing and marveling at Nature’s beautiful creations, her creative core is ignited by natural and organic form, by vivid color, by the tension and contradictions generated by the extremes found in Nature: symmetry and chaos, light and dark, smooth and rough. A self-taught artist, she took an active participation within the art community and her paintings have been accepted into many juried art exhibits, national art competitions and galleries in the Bay Area, with some of her paintings having won prestigious awards. Her works are also part of private and corporate collections in the U.S. and Europe.
Jirsa, Oakland — “Dolores Park Love”
Jirsa is an Oakland-based plein air artist that creates oil paintings live in the streets and parks of San Francisco, the greater Bay Area, and all across America. Born in South Dakota, she has traveled throughout every state in the continental US (creating plein air paintings in 30+ states) but California and the little city of San Francisco continue to capture this colorful impressionist’s heart. Being outside and connecting with the local community and neighborhood is integral to her work, with the stories and history she learns from locals on the street adding depth to her work. Jirsa has been part of the Mission’s City Art Cooperative Gallery for over a decade and often can be found creating her vibrant paintings in the streets of the Mission and Castro or outside your favorite dive bar or cafe. While typically working with oil on canvas, she sometimes switches it up to work on larger public projects that support her passions, which include painting a mural for Life Long Medical Center in East Oakland, two of fifty Large Stompers for the Oakland Athletics 50th Anniversary, and one of the large Hearts for SFGH last year. Find her original oil paintings at City Art Cooperative Gallery on Valencia in SF this November through January and at Adele Gilani Gallery in Sausalito or reach out directly for her to paint something special just for you.
Stella Lee and Vincent Lee, Foster City — “Blooming Heartree”
Stella Lee (5th grader) and Vincent Lee (1st grader) are siblings who currently attend Belmont Oaks Academy. Stella is originally from South Korea but her family moved to the Bay Area when she was 2 years old. She loves art in all of its forms, including drawing, coloring, crafting, or making things with recycled materials. She also loves cooking, especially making pancakes for her little brother. Vincent is really into animals and insects. He loves to visit the zoo to meet some of his favorite animals. His hobby is making paper airplanes. He has made more than 30 different types of airplanes and presented to his classmates how each airplane flies differently due to its shape. They are working together to create their heart sculpture.
Monica Loos, San Francisco — “Love of Dahlias”
Monica Loos is a painter and a thread and fabric enthusiast living in San Francisco with her husband, two teen boys, and dog. She is inspired by food, flora, landscapes, and humans. Her work can be described as simplified, stylized, and generally embodying a feeling of calmness. Monica’s most recent work is primarily in acrylics, but she jumps into other mediums to rest her brain, regroup, and experiment. These include watercolor, cut paper, fabric, and thread. Her creative work allows her to share her appreciation of simple beauty with others.
Mika Sarkar Omachi, San Francisco — “San Francisco Woven Together”
Mihika (Mika) Sarkar Omachi attends 9th grade at Lick-Wilmerding High School. She is a visual artist, whose work has appeared in Stone Soup, Celebrating Art, and New Moon Girls Magazine. She studies art at Artworks West Portal. A San Francisco native, Mika draws inspiration from everyday life in the city. She has a long-standing connection to San Francisco General Hospital, where her mother practices general internal medicine. In 2012, Mika participated in the community effort to paint the Precita Eyes mural at the Center for Vulnerable Populations Lobby at San Francisco General Hospital.
Ron Orpitelli, San José — “Gratitude, Grace and Beauty”
A San José native and life-long South Bay resident, Ron Orpitelli holds a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Illustration from San José State University. Professionally, he has worked in publishing, non-profit art and community service administration, and educational research. Currently, he is part of the Learning & Experience Program at Filoli Historic House and Garden in Woodside. His professional work in the creative sector has included positions as a scenic artist and craftsman for regional and community theater companies throughout California (including American Musical Theater of San Jose, Opera San Jose, San Diego Starlight, and Circus Vargas). As an active studio artist, he has shown with artist collectives including Palo Alto Art League, WORKS Gallery (San José), and Sun Gallery (Hayward) among others.
Sarabjit Singh, Santa Clara — “Hearts Delight”
Sarabjit Singh is an award-winning artist who has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for almost three decades. She has passionately pursued art all her life, teaching in schools, and privately to kids and adults. Creating art to heal and bring understanding in a chaotic world is the purpose of her art. Acrylics on canvas, metal, and wood and walls are the mediums for the artist. Bright and bold colors depict the vivacious characters and events in her artwork, as she believes that colors have the power to heal. Her work has been shown in multiple national and international exhibitions including at the Triton Museum of Art (Santa Clara), Kala Sangam Gallery (Bradford, England) and at Sikhlens Film and Art Festival (Orange, Los Angeles), as well as festivals in Pakistan and India. She gets inspiration for her art from people, travels, events, history, present times, and her personal life. Her art is in private collections in countries around the world.
Mary Southall, San Francisco — “Beyond a Landslide”
Mary Southall is a San Francisco-based artist working in acrylic and mixed media. She has been in numerous shows in her native state of Texas and California including the Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and The California Museum in Sacramento. In 2021 Mary had a sudden cardiac arrest. She was fortunate to be in a public space where an off duty firefighter performed CPR until medics arrived. She was rushed to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center where the amazing team of doctors and specialists not only saved her life, but also preserved her brain function through state of the art cooling techniques, allowing for a complete recovery. Mary is now able to continue to pursue her career, creating vibrant paintings and mixed media works out of her Hunter’s Point Shipyard Studio.