By Bill Althaus The Examiner
A local artist has two pieces among the 154 five-foot hearts that can be seen around the metro area during the Kansas City Parade of Hearts, which opened this week.
The Parade of Hearts is a public art installation that celebrates America’s heartland, while benefiting neighborhoods, artists and small businesses facing hardship due to the pandemic.
Benjamin McClish, the worship leader at Point of Hope Church in Blue Springs, is an artist. His wife Cori came across a story about the event.
“Cori is always looking for opportunities to help promote my art,” said McClish, who is also a professional singer who has written many published Christian songs. “And she saw this article that had an application for the parade of hearts, so I applied.
“And as they say in the movies, the rest is history.”
Over 700 designs were submitted to the selection committee, and that total was whittled down to 154. McClish is one of seven artists invited to submit two pieces.
“I was like, ‘Man, are you kidding me? Two starters?’ I was beyond thrilled,” he said.
However, he ran into a major hurdle before the creative process began.
“The hearts are five feet tall and have this massive base,” he said. “Guess what? They were too big to fit in my studio, so I did all the work in my garage. It wasn’t the most creative setting, but we made it, and I’m thrilled with it. how they turned out.
A heart on display at 400 W. 31st St. in Penn Valley Park is titled “Refined in Fire”. It has a golden hue that looks like liquid gold coming out of an oven.
Another heart, “Thankful for Freedom”, features a variety of stars on the front and stripes, like those of the American flag, on the back. It’s at 1403 Grand Street across from the T-Mobile Center in downtown Kansas City.
The exhibit will run until May 7, and the hearts will then be auctioned off, with proceeds going to individuals and businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic.
“Man, I can be creative, do what I love, and it helps people,” McClish said. “This whole project has been amazing.”
He paused for a moment and added, “I’m like a little child. I can’t wait to see where they are and get some great photos. It’s a unique opportunity and I want to make the most of it.