Know Your Street Art: Peaceful Hearts Doctor

In 2010, Banksy came to San Francisco and plastered new work around the city, including a prominent wall in Chinatown that suddenly sported a doctor, a stethoscope, a heart, and a peace sign. Peaceful Hearts Doctor, as the work came to be known, was beloved by the building's owners, who covered it in plexiglass to ward off vandals. In the past year, though, saboteurs have dripped black paint over the doctor's face and body, somehow nestling the paint between the plexiglass and the wall. Peaceful Hearts Doctor is essentially destroyed, says a worker at Eastern Bakery, a longtime Chinatown establishment on the street level of the same building. Sitting behind the counter, the woman (who refused to give her name) says Banksy's creation has now brought “problems” to the corner of Grant Avenue and Commercial Street, including an increase in graffiti on neighboring walls. On the corner, elderly Chinese men still play the musical instrument called the ehru, hoping that passersby will give them tips. But few people stop anymore to take their photo in front of Peaceful Hearts Doctor, which is now unrecognizable as a genuine Banksy. The doctor looks like a monstrous blob from a cheap 1950s scare flick. The only thing to do, really, is walk a few blocks away, to 270 Columbus Ave., where another Banksy work — this one with an anti-war message (“If at first you don't succeed — call an airstrike”) — sits atop the building, mostly untouched since it first appeared three years ago.

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