Confidential creativity: Secret society of artists paint Kansas town

Positive Connections

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – A group of secret artists is painting the City of Hutchinson with cheer.

“The main goal of Spread the Love is to just sprinkle the town of Hutchinson and our community with hearts to create unity and to bring everyone together,” said one artist.

“It is just a way to foster unity and compassion and community throughout our little area here,” said another artist.

The confidential creators started painting hearts on sidewalks in early July when the pandemic and racial injustice were at the forefront of the nation.

“With everything going on in the community, in the world, we just needed something simple that showed people that we can stand together,” one of the artists said. “It doesn’t matter what you come from, your background, just a simple act of a heart can show kindness and compassion.”

“So we just kind of assumed maybe we will do 20 of them and I think at this point we are getting close to 200,” one artist laughed.

The hearts quickly gained in popularity with homeowners, schools, and businesses requesting their own designs.

“People message us for a certain location and through that, we get their name, we can research them through Facebook or we might know them personally so we know something we can do on their heart and sometimes it’s just as simple as going to their house and looking at their door or doormat or a pillow and getting inspired by that,” an artist explained.

Holly Thomas, the owner of Holly’s Sweet Treats, is one of the people who requested a heart.

“When I walked around the corner and I saw it, I was overly thrilled because it really encompasses a little bit of what we do. It has the sweets and the sprinkles and the cookie kind of look to it,” said Thomas. “I hope it’s up there for a very long time.”

Thomas said something as simple as a heart has had a big impact on her.

“I personally have been feeling some negativity and just been feeling downtrodden in the last six weeks. I think with everything going on, it was just kind of hitting me all at once, so when I saw this new Facebook group come across my page, I thought, ‘this is what we need,'” she said.

The artists said they too have felt the love from their work.

“When we started this we wanted it to be something for the community, but it ended up being something that was helpful for us too,” one painter said.

KSN asked the artists why they chose to keep their identities a secret.

“It’s just kind of fun. I think it adds to some of the mystery of what it is. People are more excited about getting it done and having us come to their house because they don’t know who we are or what we are doing,” an artist said.

“I wanted the focus to be on the hearts. I wanted the focus to be on the movement of spreading love and kindness and not about us. It’s not about us. It has never been about us. It’s been about the hearts and what we can do for the community,” another artist explained.

The paint is expected to stay put for about six months. The artists said they intend to paint for several more weeks as they do have day-jobs to focus on as well.

It’s unclear if or when the artists will reveal themselves to the people of Hutchinson.

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