Find the romance in Valentine’s art quest


Go on the hunt for love like never before in this Valentine’s art quest in Balboa Park. Complete with heart-adorned breasts, the color red and lounging lovers, this tour-de-heart will inspire embraces, kisses and insightful conversation. And most important of all, February is Museum Month, so museums are half off with a pass from Macy’s locations around San Diego County.

“Lovers in a Park”

François Boucher, (1758), Timken Museum of Art

Sensuous, fanciful and seemingly idyllic, Boucher’s image reflects the eternal struggle in relationships. Among a dreamy landscape of blooming flowers, serene expressions and sumptuous fabrics, the man who is supposed to be weaving flowers into his lover’s coiffure is taken with a passing milkmaid. Ahh, just wait until the oblivious lady turns around ... or will she? Lovers in a Park makes for a playful image to kick off your Valentine tour.

“Poet and His Muse”

Niki de Saint Phalle, (1998), located outside the Mingei International Museum

Guys, romantic tip: Write or say something meaningful (like a love poem), and recite it in front of this sculpture, declaring your lady as a muse in all you do. Or you could lift her over your head like the piece and get your picture taken alongside. Are you an athlete or a poet?

“L’Ange Protecteur (Guardian Angel)”

Niki de Saint Phalle, (1998), lobby of Mingei International Museum

Head inside the Mingei to revel under this 19-foot winged sculpture, or head upstairs for an up-close view. The artist continues her signature heart on the breast (also seen on “Poet and His Muse”) which encourages introspection on love, biology, sexuality and the protection of love.

“Signature Quilt - Baltimore Album Quilt”

various artists, (1847), upstairs at Mingei International Museum

A warming image of love, comfort and, perhaps, a simpler life, the quilt contains hearts, flowers, a dotted bull’s-eye, and (one might even imagine) foliage-simulated arrows to spur on Valentine’s sentiments. The gentle imagery allows the viewer to meditate on the beauty and peace of love, while marveling at the skill of the artisans.

“Sonata Primitive”

Saul L. Baizerman, (1940-48), located in courtyard between Panama 66 and Sculpture Garden

Embrace your lover while pondering the voluptuous synergy between these two figures. Frozen in time, yet dynamic, the sonata is a piece of visual music playing to our senses.

“Odyssey III”

Tony Rosenthal, (1973), located outside the San Diego Museum of Art

On Valentine’s Day, one cannot help but cross-associate the intersecting vibrant red disks with intertwining hearts and lives. As complex and beautiful as love itself, the sculpture stimulates the viewer with passionate and fiery color while encouraging contemplation for each person’s own interpretation and encounter.

All-inclusive date night and picnic

Feb. 14, San Diego Museum of Art

Finally, after your romantic hunt, head into the museum for an after-hours tour with love-themed works. Continue your Valentine’s evening with a picnic basket meal from Panama 66, including gourmet sandwiches, a cheese or vegan plate, chocolate truffles, and your choice of a bottle of champagne, wine or craft beer. Guests can grab a provided blanket and lounge on the grassy May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden lawn. Tour and meal service begins at 5:30 p.m., with the tour offered every half-hour until 7:30 p.m. $95/members, $110/nonmembers. For tickets, visit


Find romance in Valentine’s art quest

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Valentine’s Day gifts for every relationship stage

Outside-of-the-box Valentine’s date guide

10 unique and unusual Valentine’s Day gifts for him

10 unique and unusual Valentine’s Day gifts for her

Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master’s degree in art history, with concentrations in the modern and postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University, and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review. Send ideas for art stories to