Overland Park sculpture will honor late artist’s legacy of ‘growing kindness’

Overland Park Growing Kindness

Three years after artist Jeff Hanson's death, his friends and family want to honor his legacy with an art piece of their own. Above, a rendering of the sculpture — dubbed "Growing Kindness." Rendering via Laurie Roberts / Parris Communications.

Three years after an Overland Park artist died of a brain tumor, his loved ones and fans are working on an art piece of their own — a legacy sculpture in his honor.

The sculpture, which friends and family are calling “Growing Kindness,” is in the works for an installation at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens.

Jeff Hanson Overland Park
Above, artist Jeff Hanson. Photo via Julie Hanson / jeffhansonart.com.

Hanson was an artist from a young age

  • Hanson started painting at 12 years old, starting with painting note cards before progressing onto acrylic canvas pieces.
  • He used his paintings as a philanthropic effort, generating more than $7 million to donate to more than 200 charities across the country by donating his paintings to auctions.
  • He received a number of awards and plenty of recognition for his work — including the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award by the NASCAR Foundation in 2015.

Hanson still started losing his vision during the same year he started painting

  • Also in his preteen years, Hanson started undergoing chemotherapy for a tumor related to neurofibromatosis — a genetic disorder that can affect the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that send signals between them.
  • In 2020, he succumbed to the brain tumor and died at 27 years old — just $3 million shy of reaching his fundraising goal of $10 million by his 30th birthday.
  • “Jeff touched so many people during his short life and was a very positive influencer, both through his artwork and his mission to ‘grow kindness,’” said his father, Hal Hanson, in a release. “His mother Julie and I are deeply committed to helping Jeff meet his fundraising goal in this same year that he would have celebrated his 30th birthday.”

The sculpture will contain stainless-steel poppies

  • Jeff Hanson’s parents, Hal and Julie Hanson, will work with architectural metalwork company Zahner to create and install the art piece.
  • The 30-foot sculpture will be installed outside the arboretum’s new visitors center.
  • Its poppies serve as a tribute to his work, which often featured the flower.

Roughly $1.2 million has been raised so far

  • The Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park has launched a campaign for the community to help with the remaining cost of the sculpture’s creation and installation.
  • It will cost $3 million in total to create and install.
  • “We are honored that Jeff’s philanthropic spirit will live on in others, and through his art,” said his mother, Julie Hanson, in the release. “This sculpture will continue to create ripples of kindness for many years to come.”

Go deeper: Read more about Jeff Hanson’s life and artwork here.