Oversized white hearts have popped up across Waxahachie, and slowly, they are being transformed into art creations inspired by the historic town.
The pocket park in downtown Waxahachie will soon be the home for the heart purchased by the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce. The Hachie Hearts are part of the now two-year city marketing campaign “Waxahachie: A place in your heart, Texas.”
The chamber's design is focused around the word "Hachie" with a beautiful blue sky above it and a field of cotton at the base.
“I told him that we have to do something that touches people’s hearts with patriotism or music and everything we thought of had been taken,” said Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce President Sandy King. “We were behind the eightball on this, and I started thinking about what Waxahachie is all about, and we were founded on cotton.”
The economy of Ellis County and Waxahachie relied heavily on agriculture and cattle during the city's early years, according to the Waxahachie Convention and Visitors Bureau website. In the turn of the century, cotton began to play an essential role in the early development, and Ellis County became known as the "Banner Cotton County of the World."
"As a result, many cotton-related industries, including one of the state’s first textile mills, was established in the town," the CVB website adds. Unfortunately, textile mills began to close as the result of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
King is a Lancaster High School graduate and had one of her fellow classmates and friend, Damion Brooker, paint the fiberglass heart.
“There is a boatload of spots and dots — oh my gosh," explained Brooker. "It takes time to sit there and wiggle a paintbrush when there is probably 12,000 spots of cotton.”
He explained the heart itself was not too much of a challenge, but the cold weather and an old back injury were the only obstacles he had to overcome. As he stroked the five-foot heart his variety of music and an unlimited amount of jellybeans helped him pass the time.
The project took a total of 20 hours with two trips from his home in The Colony. Brooker graduated high school in 1987 and then from the Art Institute of Dallas in 1989.
Brooker, 50, claims he has been an artist since he was about three years old.
“I’ve been an artist all my life," Brooker affirmed. "In my collection of art, I have drawings from when I was tiny. My mom would give me a pencil, pen or crayon during church and I’d doodle little people, animals and things. You name it, I’ve done — I can’t even tell you.”
Brooker has created public art on murals to even senior parking spots for Waxahachie students. He has painted projects, creative construction, and stonework as well. He recently painted a child’s bedroom that was a friend of King’s. This project reconnected them and plugged the idea that Brooker would be the ideal artist for the Hachie Heart.
King and Brooker collaborated on the design of the heart. King came up short with ideas as Waxahachie buildings, crape myrtles and other Waxahachie icons had already been completed. As they brainstormed via email, King mentioned "cotton."
“That’s Sandy," Brooker said. "Since she lives there, functions there, she has a pulse of Waxahachie.”
Brooker knew he wanted the heart to have a perspective view and depth. He pointed out the cotton starts large toward the base of the heart and shrink smaller as a person gazes near the arches of the heart.
“I wanted it to be a scene, and when you’re standing in front of it, it’s like looking through a heart-shaped lens or window," he explained. "And, that’s when I said, ‘Well, how about we put the word Hachie?’”
Brooker disclosed that he puts his work in the hands of God before any project. If he does not, then he will contemplate the job throughout the night or even dream about it.
“I’ve just given up, and so I say a little prayer before I start. It always works," Brooker assured. "Work is hard; you have to hold your breath and balance. It doesn’t come easy, and people don’t think art is work.”
Brooker is vastly talented in the art from construction to three-dimensional art pieces to painted projects. One of his most significant works of art is when he converted a 40-foot cargo container into a milk carton.
So far, a total of four hearts have been permanently placed. A hearty by KBEC 1390 Radio is at Getzendaner Park, a heart by Poston Gardens is finished in the park under the viaduct and Wayne Boze Funeral has a heart near the Chautauqua Auditorium. A heart sponsored by Town Square Title is placed in front of Waxahachie City Hall but is not complete
The Daily Light plans to feature the story and artist behind each of the 10 Hachie Hearts (well, nine now) as they are completed.
Amy Borders, Waxahachie Director of Communications and Marketing, shared the rain has prevented some finished hearts from being connected to cement bases.
To check out more of Brooker's work, follow him on Facebook at @DamionBrookerCreative and Instagram at damion_brooker_creative and his website at www.damionbrooker.com.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450