Lake County sculptor's metal giraffe a real showstopper

  • "Inner Peace" by Matt Bellefeuille at the Lemon Street Gallery, Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    "Inner Peace" by Matt Bellefeuille at the Lemon Street Gallery, Kenosha, Wisconsin. Courtesy of Blue Moon Gallery

  • Matt Bellefeuille works on one of the two pieces that make up his sculpture "Inner Peace."

    Matt Bellefeuille works on one of the two pieces that make up his sculpture "Inner Peace." Courtesy of Blue Moon Gallery

 
Submitted by Blue Moon Gallery
Posted1/24/2022 12:26 PM

Matt Bellefeuille is a renowned master metal sculptor from Winthrop Harbor whose captivating sculptures have been thrilling visitors at art galleries and exhibitions throughout Northern Illinois and Southeastern Wisconsin for the last 10 years.

Although Bellefeuille has always had an artistic eye and a creative spirit, it was not until he learned how to weld at his public works job for the village of Gurnee (going on 23 years) that he found the medium he was meant to use.

 

Using both recycled metal parts, such as old car parts, nuts and bolts, grates, springs, tools, sewing machine pieces, and even silverware, and other found metal objects along with new metal pieces, Bellefeuille strives to give these cold, hard components a soft and elegant look in his works of sculptural art.

Receiving consistent growing acclaim and popularity, Matt took on his most ambitious sculpture to date in the spring of 2021 and created "Inner Peace," an 8-foot-tall, metal, illuminated, free-standing giraffe, which first debuted at the Lemon Street Gallery in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in late summer.

The sculpture took approximately three months to complete and required torching, cutting, welding, and grinding to execute.

The sculpture presented some interesting challenges for the artist.

"I wanted to create a sculpture that would have longevity and be relatively easy to maintain. To accomplish this, I had to build 'Inner Peace' in two pieces. This enabled me not only to easily add the illumination, but more so to sandblast and then powder coat the entire work, every inch, inside and out. Powder coating is one of the most durable things you can do to a sculpture," Bellefeuille said.

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"Working with two pieces was a challenge. I had to make sure the heating and welding did not warp the metal, which could then impact a seamless fit."

In September, "Inner Peace" traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it was accepted into the competitive and highly prestigious three-week ArtPrize Festival, marking Bellefeuille's third appearance at the noted international event.

"Inner Peace" was prominently featured in front of a floor-to-ceiling window at one of ArtPrize's most sought after locations for artists to show their work.

Next, "Inner Peace" won the curator's Award of Excellence from the Robert T. Wright Gallery of Art at the College of Lake County in Grayslake in their juried Recent Works Exhibition in October.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Inner Peace" stands 95 inches tall and is 48 inches wide and 28 inches deep. It is made of steel with a copper and black double powder coat, and features more than 250 multicolored LED lights inside. A video showing the sculpture's various stages of illumination can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQiI-PHzuA8.

"I had the vision of this sculpture in my head years ago, and I knew I would not be able to let go of that vision until I had made the sculpture a reality. I named it 'Inner Peace' because of the soft glow that pours out of the sculpture. It represents letting our inner peace, beauty, and love shine out into the world," Bellefeuille said.

Bellefeuille has created metal sculptures of cats, dogs, fish, horses, mice, and insects. "Inner Peace" is his third and largest giraffe sculpture.

"Out of all the animals in the animal kingdom, I identify with the giraffe's strange and compelling uniqueness," Bellefeuille said. "The giraffe is my favorite animal."

Currently on display for viewing in the lobby at the Kenosha Area Business Alliance in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Friday, the commanding, award-winning sculpture is now ready to find its permanent home.

For more information about "Inner Peace" by Matt Bellefeuille and to see more photos, visit www.thebluemoongallery.com, or send an inquiry to Kendra Kett, director, Blue Moon Gallery, at kendra@thebluemoongallery.com or call (224) 388-7948.

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