Work of Heart
painting a Celtic knot
on a heart sculpture for the Hearts in San Francisco project, a benefit
for the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, Professor Paul Pratchenko
used skills he developed as a teenager in Virginia "souping up"
cars with his friends.
"I had my [design] all laid out on graph paper," Pratchenko
says, "but it was difficult to paint it on a three-dimensional
object, so I went back to my roots as a pinstriper of hot rods and just
His heart was one of 130 that lined the streets of San Francisco in
2004. In November, the sculptures were put on auction to raise money
to improve patient care at the San Francisco General Hospital Medical
"I owe a lot to San Francisco, so I wanted to give something back,"
Pratchenko says. "I feel very privileged to have been a working
artist here for this long."
After traveling around the world for three years as a ground radio technician
in the U.S. Marine Corps, Pratchenko moved to San Francisco in 1965
and earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in art at San Jose
State. The solitary life of an artist influenced his decision to teach.
"I would get up in the morning, go down to the studio, come out
for lunch and dinner, and work until I couldn't stand it anymore, and
I was getting … funny. I decided I needed to get out around people,"
Pratchenko has been teaching at SFSU for 26 years. "I am just amazed
at the kids I teach. I see these jewels in the rough, and their work
just takes off," he says. "It's very rewarding."