The Muellers had a vision of a big HeART on Eisenhower Boulevard to welcome travelers on this major artery leading through Loveland. They decided to sponsor a large fiberglass HeART through the “Loveland: A City with HeART” program, managed by E.L. Events.
Teresa Mueller approached two of their Mueller & Associates CPA clients who are Loveland artists, Mary Benke and Merrilee Cleveland. She was familiar with the artists, having collected their work before. The Muellers, who moved here from Texas, asked Mary for a painting representing their new adventure in Colorado, something showing the mountains and wildlife they love. They asked sculptor Merrilee to create a bronze three-dimensional figure to leap out of the open center of the HeART, representing their leap of faith in coming to Colorado. For a final touch, they requested a pink ribbon to honor a staff member who is a breast cancer survivor.
Both artists met several times to discuss the concepts and how to work together before they created the design. Mary printed out outlines of the HeART sculpture onto heavy watercolor paper, then sketched nature scenes directly onto the paper. She provided these images to Merrilee, who photoshopped them together with her abstract bronze figure. Once the design was submitted to and approved by the HeART Committee and the Muellers, the artists each began to work on their part of the HeART.
Mary Benke painted a tranquil alpine landscape to which she added elk, heron, aspen trees, water and flowers to the prominent image of the mountains. She deliberately made it more abstract than her usual style and added lines and details that would make her painting mesh better with Merrileeʼs art. Mary envisioned Merrileeʼs bronze figure as “stepping out of a dark forest into the light” and planned the color palette to give that effect.
Merrilee Cleveland sculpted a much larger version of her small “mercurio” figures, inspired by native American kachinas, for the HeART. The large size and weight of the figure created some challenges. The weight of the bronze required additional metal structural supports in the base below the HeART and the balance was crucial so the figure would stand upright and step out. Mary and Merrilee enjoyed this collaborative effort as they usually work alone. Communicating well with each other and their client was key. They enjoyed meeting with Teresa to discuss details, going to the bronze foundry together, and getting guidance on the project from Kristine at E.L. Events. The most exciting moment for everyone involved was when the “mercurio” figure was placed into the painted HeART. Everyone loved how it came together!
The artists and the staff at Mueller & Associates CPA are thrilled with their first public art installation. Their “Loverʼs Leap” HeART along Highway 34 glows with the richly-hued painting of the mountains and wildlife complementing the golden bronze figure leaping out of the HeART. Perhaps it will inspire passersby to have their own Colorado adventure!