San Francisco plans to install ox sculptures in various locations around The City to help celebrate Chinese New Year’s after the annual parade was cancelled due to COVID-19. Three of the colorful works will be placed in public parks.
The Recreation and Park Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve the temporary installation of the sculptures in honor of Year of the Ox at Portsmouth Square, Union Square and Civic Center Plaza.
The works are being commissioned from different artists and are expected to remain in place from February until March 15.
“Due to COVID the parade has had to be cancelled,” said Dana Ketcham, Rec and Park’s director of property management, permits and reservations. “The San Francisco Chinese Chamber wants to honor the year of the Ox in ways that can safely socially distance and they are sponsoring a number of installations of Oxen in locations throughout the city, three of which will be in our parks. Others are in private property.”
The sculptures are “separately designed and festively painted,” weighing about 400 pounds and standing around 4.5 feet tall.
The Chinese New Year Festival and Parade organizers plan to install a total of 11 Ox art sculptures designed by local artists “to reflect upon the Chinese culture, people, and traditions.” The project is titled ”Year of the Ox on Parade.”
The works will later be auctioned off to benefit Chinatown nonprofits.
The Portsmouth Square Ox sculpture, sponsored by Comcast, is being painted by artist Deyi (Robin) Zhao.
The sculpture is called the “New Hope Ox” and “showcases themes of springtime, strength, and peace,” according to a description of the work provided in an announcement by the event organizers.
“With its eyes looking ahead, the statue conveys progress and forward movement into the new and unknown horizon,” the description read. “The Chinese plum blossom branches and flowers featured throughout the statue’s design represent perseverance, strength, and bravery.”
The Civic Center Plaza Ox sculpture, titled “xOXo Ox” is sponsored by AARP and painted by artist Monique Zhang.
“The xOXo Ox represents the vigor and vitality of the elders in our community,” the description reads. “In the position of strength, the Ox stands proud in colorful textures to represent the silk fabrics of the traditional Chinese attire.”
Brian Travis Williams, a visual artist with The Parade Guys, is designing the Union Square Ox sculpture, which is sponsored by self-driving car company Cruise.
The Arts Commission is expected to vote on the three installations on Feb. 1.