At its best, public sculpture is stirring and inspiring. At its worst, it's an assault on the senses — a visual blight that prompts passers-by to avoid eye contact or (in extreme cases) attack the art with invective, graffiti, or even legal threats of removal. San Francisco has its share of divisive sculpture. Consider Cupid's Span, the giant red bow and arrow on the Embarcadero, which is a classic case of good intentions gone awry. Done in 2002 by the New York-based team of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the sculpture — “inspired by San Francisco's reputation as the home port of Eros” — is whimsical but way too trivial for its size and placement. Life is too short to stand in front of works like Cupid's Span. Instead, visit these free public sculptures, which should resonate with art lovers of all tastes.
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