River Oaks resident Travis Hedemann has eyes of blue and a heart of gold. The 33-year-old artist is participating in Heart Deco, an art show to benefit the American Heart Association.
“I painted a big, happy, healthy heart that I think will get some attention,” Hedemann said.
Hedemann said it’s a perfect fit for him, because his art business is called “Young at Heart Art.”
And every vibrant, colorful piece of his work has a pair of bright blue eyes somewhere within — including his piece for Heart Deco.
Encouraged by his grandfather, Carroll Lewis, Hedemann has been drawing his whole life.
“I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, like The Smurfs and Popeye — the classics — and drawing cartoons at the same time,” Hedemann said. “My grandfather taught me some basic skills.”
Lewis, a Houston artist and musician, died this past January.
A few years ago, Hedemann decided it was time to swap pencil and paper for acrylic and canvas after seeing a John-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Hedemann then attended an art convention in Las Vegas, where a couple of West Coast galleries took notice of his work.
From there, art collectors began to commission him, including celebrities such as Courteney Cox Arquette.
“It’s so fun,” Arquette writes on Hedemann’s website. “You are so talented.”
While it might sound like an overnight success story, Hedemann said it’s not.
“I think people enjoyed the work right away, but I’ve developed my technique and think I’ve gotten a lot better since then,” Hedemann said. “In the last year, people have begun buying the prints.”
But Hedemann, a native Houstonian who graduated in 1995 from Episcopal High School in Bellaire, will never forget where it all began, which was here in Houston.
That’s why he, along with nine other artists, is happy to paint a piece for Heart Deco.
“The eyes are huge, the smile is big, there’s no missing what it means,” Hedemann said. “Even if someone is just driving by, I hope it will catch their eye and make them smile.”
So does Tiffany Travis, communications director at the American Heart Association, 10060 Buffalo Speedway in Houston.
Travis said all 10 pieces bring the gift of awareness.
“It guarantees excitement, energy, and passion and gets people talking about heart disease,” Travis said. “Heart disease is preventable, yet it’s the number one cause of death for women.”
Stroke is the number three killer, Travis said. May is Stroke Awareness month.
The Heart Deco project is the brainchild of Jeff Gray, president of Grayco Partners and developer of the Belle Meade, who has a family member with heart disease.
“I wanted to create a powerful public art display that would make a statement while adding interest to the River Oaks neighborhood,” said Gray. “The American Heart Association has done so much for Houston and we wanted to give back.”