Illuminate SF: Festival of Light: 45+ Light Sculptures
Illuminate SF: Festival of Light is making The City a little brighter, Thanksgiving 2020 through January 23, 2021 and shines a light on San Francisco’s ever-expanding light art scene.
Get your glow on during this two-month celebration during the longest nights of the year. In past years, the city has hosted nighttime neighborhood walks, artist talks and participatory experiences. Since this is a unique year with special precautions and restrictions, there aren’t scheduled activities. Just map your own route and take a fun self-guided tour with your own household.
> 2020 Light Art Installations – 45+ different light sculptures (both permanent and temporary) in 17 neighborhoods by 30+ artists.
Read more at Illuminate SF.
The eighth annual light fantastic includes several dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations accessible by public transit and admission-free.
Many of San Francisco’s intimate neighborhoods will also light up shopping districts and streets. Read more in our Winter Holidays Lights Guide.
- > New for 2020 – Entwined, Charles Gadeken and Golden Gate 150th Celebration (2020), Temporary: 12/10/20 – 2/28/21 (Possible ext. to 6/1/21), Golden Gate Park, Peacock Meadow
- > New for 2020 – Skystar Observation Wheel, Golden Gate Park 150th Celebration and SkyStar (2020), Temporary, Golden Gate Park Music Concourse
- > New for 2020 – Revival, Illuminate (2020), Temporary, Golden Gate Park Music Concourse
- Night Bloom, Lightswitch (2018), Temporary: November 22, 2019 – January 5, 2020, Conservatory of Flowers: 101 John F. Kennedy Dr.
- Tara Mechani, Dana Albany (2019) Temporary, Hayes Valley: Patricia’s Green (Hayes at Octavia)
Inspired by the robot Maria from the classic silent film “Metropolis,” Tara Mechani is a 17-foot-high figurative sculpture that entwines aspects of the ancient female Buddha, Tara, with characteristics of a futuristic female robot.
- Grace Light, George Zisiadis (2019), Temporary, Nob Hill: Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St.
Visitors look upward through a slight atmospheric haze and are enveloped in a 100-foot-tall shifting curtain of light. Free but tickets required.
There are 32 permanent light artworks within the city’s 49 square miles, including:
- > New for 2020 – THE LADDER (SUN OR MOON), Ivan Navarro (2020) Permanent, 1066 Market Street
- W.F.T., Joseph Kosuth (2019), Civic Center: Bill Graham Auditorium, 99 Grove St.
This mural presents the etymology, or “Word Family Tree”, of “civic” and “auditorium” in white neon.
- Point Cloud, Leo Villarreal (2019), Moscone Center: 747 Howard St.
This 100-ft. pedestrian bridge towering over Howard Street connects the two sides of Moscone Center with a seemingly infinite array of lights.
- Seeing Spheres, Olafur Eliasson (2019), Mission Bay: 1 Warriors Way, Chase Center
Olafur Eliasson’s largest public artworks in the U.S., “Seeing Spheres”, consists of five fifteen-and-a-half-feet-tall polished hydroformed steel spheres that stand in a circle around a central space.
- “monument” for V Tatlin, Dan Flavin (1969), SFMOMA Floor 5, 151 Third St., SoMa
- Untitled (In Honor of Leo at the 30th Anniversary of his Gallery), Dan Flavin (1971), SFMOMA Floor 5, 151 Third St., SoMa
- Constellation, Nayland W. Blake (1996), San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St., Civic Center
- Three Gems, James Turrell (2005), de Young Museum, Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden, Golden Gate Park
- Anima, Jim Sanborn (2006), Alexandria Real Estate Equities, 1700 Owens St., Mission Bay
- Skygarden, James Turrell (2007), 90 Seventh St. facing Mission Street, Central Market
- Ocean Mirror with Fragments, Jim Campbell (2007), Saunders Court, UCSF, Inner Sunset
- Language of the Birds, Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn (2008), Broadway and Columbus Avenue, North Beach
- Yud, Daniel Libeskind (2008), 736 Mission St., Contemporary Jewish Museum, SoMa
- PaRDeS Wall, Daniel Libeskind (2008), 736 Mission St., Contemporary Jewish Museum, SoMa
- The Bay Lights, Leo Villareal (2013), San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge West Span, Embarcadero
- San Francisco at Night: Model Art Map, Lisa Gemmiti (2011), W San Francisco Hotel, 181 Third St., SoMa
- Lumina, MADLAB (2013), 181 Third St., W San Francisco Hotel, SoMa
- Bayview Rise, Haddad – Drugan (2014), Pier 92 at Third Street and Cargo Way, Bayview
- Handsignals, Matthew Passmore/MoreLab (2014) McCoppin at Valencia Street, SoMa
- Ethereal Bodies, Cliff Garten (2014), 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco General Hospital, Potrero
- Archipelago, Anna Valentina Murch (2014), 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco General Hospital, Potrero
- “…and my room still rocks like a boat on the sea” (Caruso’s Dream), Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn (2014), 55 Ninth St., South of Market Street, Central Market
- Lamp of the Covenant, Dave Lane (2015), Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission St., SoMa
- Spiral of Gratitude, Shimon Attie and Vale Bruck (2015), 1245 Third St., Mission Bay
- Monarch, Cliff Garten (2015), Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices, 1600 Owens St., Mission Bay
- Hope Will Never Be Silent, Illuminate (2017), Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro Street
- Illuminavia, HYBYCOZO (2017), Hotel VIA, ground level space at Bar VIA, 136 King Street, South Beach
- Day For Night, Jim Campbell (2018), Embarcadero: 415 Mission St.
- Buckyball, Leo Villareal (2012), Embarcadero: Pier 15 at Mission Street
- The Seed, Aphidoidea (2017),Castro: Jane Warner Plaza, 17th and Market Streets
- Love Over Rules, Hank Willis Thomas (2017), Yerba Buena: 165 Jessie Street
- White Light, Jenny Holzer (2018), SoMa/Yerba Buena: Salesforce Transit Center, Grand Hall
Eight permanent light art installations at SFO include:
- > New for 2020 – ORION, Spence Finch (2020), Permanent, SFO Terminal 1
- Coding, Johanna Grawunder (2019),
- Ceiling Flood, Keith Sonnier (1999), International Terminal, Boarding Area G, Level 2, Post-Security
- Four Sculptural Light Reflectors, James Carpenter (2000), International Terminal, Main Hall, Level 3, Pre-Security
- Light Beams for the Sky of a Transfer Corridor, Vito Acconci (2000), International Terminal, A-G, Level 2, Pre-Security
- Wind Portal, Ned Kahn (2000), International Terminal between BART Station and AirTrain
- Spirogyrate, Eric Staller (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security
- Sky, Merge Conceptual Design (2014), Terminal 3, Boarding Area E, Level 2, Post-Security
BONUS: Past Works That You Can Still See
- Jacob’s Dream: A Luminous Path, Benjamin Bergery & Jim Campbell (2016), Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St., Nob Hill – This piece was part of Illuminate in 2019, but is not included on the 2020 list of installations; however, on Grace Cathedral’s website, it still appears to be currently hanging in the Cathedral.
- Firefly, Ned Kahn (2012), 525 Golden Gate Ave. at Polk Street, Civic Center – This piece was part of Illuminate in 2019, but is not included on the 2020 list of installations; however, it’s most likely still on display.
- Kaleidoscope, Karina Smigla-Bobinski (2019), Temporary: December 6, 2019 – January 1, 2020, Embarcadero: Exploratorium, Pier 15 – This piece was part of Illuminate in 2019, but it’s not included on the 2020 list of installations. It’s still on display, but the Exploratorium is temporarily closed. Save this one for a future visit.