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Beth Martens is Among Select Artists Chosen for Parade of Hearts

Beth Martens Parade of Hearts

Remember the artistic cows that used to pop up all over Kansas City? Well there’s a new installation in town - the “Parade of Hearts”.

You may have seen some of the fiberglass hearts on the news or around town. The Parade of Hearts is a public art installation that celebrates the Heart of America and benefits local neighborhoods, artists, small businesses, and others who are facing hardship due to the pandemic.

On March 6, organizers from Parade of Hearts started installing the 154 heart sculptures designed by 123 different local artists around Kansas City. Out of 700 total designs submitted, only 154 were accepted.

Marketing Proposal Specialist Beth Martens was one of the artists selected. Her heart, titled “Downtown Time” can be found at 217 SW Main Street in Lee's Summit, MO, next to the historic train depot.

You may recall from past newsletters that Beth is a fine artist. In March, she won first place in the portrait division of the Blue Springs Fine Art Show for her portrait of P1’s father and son leadership Smitty and Bruce Belcher. She also won “Best in Show” at the same show for “Waves of Wonder.”

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But Beth says the heart installation is the most significant art event she has ever been involved with.

At first, Beth didn’t think the medium would lend itself to her watercolor art.

“I am a member of Summit Art Group and the director sent out the Parade of Hearts Call for Artists application to all the members sometime last summer,” Beth said. “I glanced through it and decided that it wasn’t something I would be interested in, because my medium of watercolor wouldn’t work well.”

Later, when she was exhibiting at Budget Blinds during the Downtown Lee’s Summit Fourth Friday Art Walk, her host asked if she had submitted an idea to the Parade of Hearts.  

“She said I should just put one of my paintings on the heart,” Beth said. 

It got her thinking about using one of her paintings, and which one would tie in best to celebrating the greater KC area. She ultimately chose her work “Downtown Time” since it celebrates the history of her hometown, Lee’s Summit.

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“All the artists have a connection to Kansas City,” Beth said. “They either grew up here, went to school here or live here now. The artists involved in the project each received a $2,000 stipend from Parade of Hearts to cover the cost of their labor and materials. They range in age from eight to 71 years old.”

A couple weeks later, much to her surprise, Beth received notification of acceptance.

“I was not expecting that,” Beth said. “I had friends texting me congratulating me and I couldn’t figure out how they knew, but found out the list of artists had been shown on the news.”

“That was the first time I realized this was a big deal.”

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Each fiberglass sculpture measures over five and a half feet tall and five feet wide, and weighs around 100 pounds.

Beth learned the company that made the hearts wasn’t very far away from the P1 Lenexa office, so she enlisted the help of the warehouse until she had time to work on it.

“Paul Ralston picked it up for me and then it was moved over to Lawrence for a couple of weeks,” she said.

The heart made its way around to several locations for Beth to work on it, but she was able to put the finishing touches on at the P1 Lenexa Warehouse, before delivering it to Parade of Hearts.

The hearts will remain on display in their various locations throughout the end of May. On June 1, Parade of Hearts will begin collecting the hearts from their locations around the city, and prepare to auction them off this summer.

“When I first became involved with the parade of hearts, I didn’t really understand the magnitude of the project and the impact it would have on the community as a whole,” Beth said. 

“Since the hearts have begun appearing around the city, I can see the excitement they are producing and the community support they are receiving.”

At a special artist’s reception, Beth says participants were given deeper insight into the vision behind this project and the financial support it will provide for so many that were impacted by the events of the past two years, including:

  • The University of Kansas Heath Systems Cardiac Division latest in heart imaging equipment
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Small Business Impacted by the Pandemic
  • Tourism and the Hospitality Industry in Kansas City

“I am genuinely humbled and honored to be a small part of this project.”

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