The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens may soon feature a new, taller kind of flower.
Overland Park couple Hal and Julie Hanson are currently designing an art installation to be featured on the north lawn of the arboretum, in front of its new visitors center, which recently began construction.
The Hansons provided the city council’s Community Development Committee with an overview of the project at the committee’s Wednesday’s meeting.
The prospective 40-foot tall installation, dubbed “Growing Kindness”, will consist of 12 poppies made of steel.
The project has a total budget of $1.5 million. The city will provide $200,000, while nearly 90% of its budget will be privately funded, according to the city.
The project is in the early phases of design, with installation of the art piece likely set for 2023.
Hal and Julie Hanson said they wanted to create the piece in the style of their son, Jeff Hanson. Jeff, a visually impaired artist, died at age 27 from a brain tumor last year.
Hal said Jeff picked up art as a hobby at age 12 and “had fabulous success with it” from that point on. He also gifted a lot of his art to charities, Hal said, and had donated $7.5 million worth of art by the time of his death.
Hal Hanson said a goal of the new art piece at the arboretum is to create an icon for people to associate strongly with Overland Park, in the way that Chicago’s Cloud Gate sculpture and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is associated with those cities.
“We want this to be an iconic symbol of Overland Park,” he said. “It’s not only going to put the skyline of Overland Park in people’s minds, but — I really think — the whole metro area.”
Aside from adding a major attraction to Overland Park, Julie Hanson said the intent of the project is also to represent the mission Jeff had of creating a kind community.
“We want it to represent how Jeff really lived his life with love, kindness and generosity,” she said.
Committee chair Logan Heley commended the project, saying Jeff’s story was inspiring and a great representation of Overland Park.
“I think it sounds like a great visionary project,” Heley said. “And I think we’re so lucky in Overland Park to have residents and community members like (the Hansons) who have that vision and are willing to share that inspiration for the better of our community.”
Committee member Melissa Cheatham pointed out that part of Forward OP, the city’s long-term strategic plan, calls for an iconic art piece or attraction as one of its action items.
“I think this is not only a good idea from (the Hansons), but it’s something that our community came together and said they wanted as they thought about what kind of a community they wanted to build,” she said. “I really think art is something that makes people love a place and feel connected to it.”
The review of this project served as an information item on the meeting’s agenda, so the committee took no formal action.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Council will review the project at the end of the month to determine next steps.