If you haven't noticed the enormous lanterns being set up in Civic Center Plaza over the last four days, you're in for a huge surprise. How huge? Twenty-feet-tall huge.
To commemorate Chinese Lunar New Year, six bamboo lantern sculptures are now lighting up Civic Center after a dedication and illumination ceremony Monday afternoon. The lanterns range in height from 16 to 20 feet, and are part of a temporary art installation by Hong Kong artist Freeman Lau.
This isn't the first time the plaza has showcased glowing art on this scale. But unlike artist Amanda Parer's giant rabbits, which were a deceptively playful comment on humans' negative impact upon nature, Lau's lanterns bear good wishes: The installation is titled Sui Sui Ping An: Peace All Year Round.
(Courtesy of Freeman Lau vai Facebook)
Fittingly, the lanterns take the shape of different vases—the word for "vase" in Mandarin sounds almost identical to the word for peace—and according to the SF Arts Commission, the artist intends for the sculptures to be a blessing to both the city and its residents. Lau also noted the art piece is a symbol for Chinese history in the U.S.—the vases are adorned with the names of early Chinese immigrants.
In more recent history, the work also commemorates 2017 as the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, when Hong Kong was transferred from the United Kingdom to China. The sculptures were first built in segments by traditional craftsmen in Hong Kong before being transferred and then assembled onsite in Civic Center Plaza over the last four days.
(Courtesy of Freeman Lau via Facebook)
And, to match the famous lengthiness of Lunar New Year activities (which often go for 23 days), the exhibit will remain through the beginning of March. Happy Year of the Rooster!
// Sui Sui Ping An—Peace All Year Round is open to the public in Civic Center Plaza through March 10, sfartscommission.org