We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. A painting is probably worth even more. For a painted heart, Roberta Barnes’s creation was worth $10,000 at the Nebraska By Heart auction. On October 6, the public art project hosted the auction in Lincoln’s Haymarket to celebrate Nebraska’s sesquicentennial.
Eighty-nine fiber glass hearts made their way to Lincoln earlier this year for patrons to enjoy a display of Nebraska’s talented artists. The second year Broken Bow art teacher Roberta Barnes was involved in four of the 6’x3’ creations.
Barnes–who previously taught in Stapleton and lives in Halsey–wanted to celebrate Nebraska’s 150-year history by sharing her talent.
“I wanted something that would commemorate our region,” Barnes said.
Dreams Become Destiny was a heart designed by Barnes to commemorate Nebraska astronaut Clayton Anderson. The project was finished in just two weeks and sold on October 6 for $2,750.
Most of the bidding began at $1,500, with some hearts going for around $8,000. However, the biggest seller of the night went for $10,000. It was Barnes’s Western Gothic: Big Skies and Big Hearts, inspired by Grant Wood’s 1930 oil painting, American Gothic.
Barnes said she was shaking and excited knowing how much money people were willing to spend to purchase her design. The Thomas County Visitors Committee bid $10,000 on the heart, which will be making its way back to the Sandhills region.
“I’m excited, partly because it did bring as much as it did because it helps out Lead Up and Sadie Dog, but more for the fact that it gets to come home,” Barnes said.
The committee and individuals from the Thomas County area worked together to bring the heart to Thedford, where it temporarily resides in front of the Roadside Inn.
Lead Up works with youth to prepare for college and the Sadie Dog Fund works with pet owners to save dogs’ lives; both organizations support Nebraska by Heart. Approximately $250,000 was raised at the event and is split between the sponsoring organizations and the artists, according to Nebraska by Heart project director Liz Shea-McCoy, who was quoted in the Journal Star.
Barnes said the thing that impressed her most about the whole project was the number of people who came to see the hearts in Lincoln. She also thanked Rod’s Body and Paint for sealing the hearts that came out of Custer County.
Barnes collaborated with Broken Bow’s Wild Rose Gallery, Paul Loomer, and Tresa Haney, to complete the Solomon Butcher heart which pays homage to the Custer County photographer.
According to Barnes, Rick and Dawn Sebek of Lincoln purchased Solomon Butcher but have decided to donate it to Broken Bow on Sunday, October 22.
Pieces of Nebraska was designed by Broken Bow art student Abby Olson. The Art Club worked together to complete the quilt-like design, which will also return to Broken Bow.