Colorado artist creates public art sculpture in honor of Freeport boy

FREEPORT – It was 2020 when Maureen Hearty of Joes, Colorado learned of a call for artists to have sculptures added to Arts Plaza in downtown Freeport.

Hearty said most of his work is exhibited in Colorado, but looking at the criteria the board asks for in Freeport Museum of Art, she decided to jump at the chance to exhibit her work in the Midwest.

Hearty submitted his proposal, which was reviewed by a committee. Hearty also heard of Dan and Sally Noble from Freeport who offered to commission an artwork in the name of their son Jack, who died in 2006 of childhood cancer.

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The Noble family wanted something for their son and Hearty needed a vision for his proposal.

“I heard this family’s story, their vision, and imagined drawing a butterfly, calling it ‘Renew,'” Hearty said. “I’m always looking for that link between place and unity. I thought of Jack, I imagined a place, and the Arts Plaza seemed to me to be a question of unity.

“It all came together, and I’m honored to have my work on display for the community, and know I’ve created something special by honoring the spirit of a lost young boy.”

Hearty’s artwork was dedicated on Friday in front of a large crowd who came to listen to him speak. Sally Noble gave a moving speech about her relationship with Hearty and how the sculpture depicts her son.

“Most of my work is in Colorado, and I live on the east side of the state where there aren’t a lot of trees,” Hearty said. “I love knowing that my art is in the Midwest, among the beautiful trees.”

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Hearty has been an artist for 20 years. The larger-than-life butterfly sculpture now displayed in the plaza represents his sense of community activism and education through his art. She also has a sculpture on display in Lima, Peru.

“The museum is very grateful to Sally and Dan Noble for commissioning this artwork for the plaza,” said Jessica Modica, executive director of the Freeport Art Museum. “Not only is it a beautiful addition to the space, but it also provides a playful and interactive musical element that children will enjoy for years to come.”

Sally Noble said she took a moment on Friday to view the sculpture hours before the official unveiling.

She said she needed a quiet moment to process her emotions before being among the biggest crowd.

“When Dan and I heard about Arts Square, we knew we wanted to contribute, and when I saw Maureen’s work, I knew it would be playful and intriguing, just like Jack. It’s a reflection of our son’s life.”

Jane Lethlean is a freelance correspondent.

Mildred D. Field