Lake County Sculptor’s Metal Giraffe Is a Real Sight

Matt Bellefeuille is a renowned master metal sculptor from Winthrop Harbor whose captivating sculptures have delighted visitors to art galleries and exhibits throughout Northern Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin for the past 10 years.

Although Bellefeuille has always had an artistic eye and a creative mind, it wasn’t until he learned to weld at his public works job for the village of Gurnee (age 23) that he found the medium that he was supposed to use.

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

Enjoying growing fame and popularity, Matt embarked on his most ambitious sculpture to date in the spring of 2021 and created “Inner Peace”, an 8-foot-tall metal illuminated freestanding giraffe, which has made his debut at Lemon Street Gallery in Kenosha, Wisconsin in late summer.

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

The sculpture presented interesting challenges for the artist.

“I wanted to create a sculpture that would have longevity and be relatively easy to maintain. To do this, I had to build ‘Inner Peace’ in two pieces. This allowed me to not only easily add the lighting, but more so sandblasting then powder coating the entire artwork, every inch, inside and out. Powder coating is one of the most durable things you can do to a sculpture said Bellefeuille.

“Working with two pieces was a challenge. I had to make sure the heating and welding didn’t 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 highly prestigious and competitive three-week ArtPrize Festival, marking Bellefeuille’s third appearance at this acclaimed international event.

“Inner Peace” was displayed prominently in front of a floor-to-ceiling window in one of ArtPrize’s most sought-after locations for artists to show off their work.

Next, “Inner Peace” won the Curator’s Award of Excellence from the Robert T. Wright Gallery of Art at College of Lake County in Grayslake at their juried exhibition of recent works in October.

“Inner Peace” is 95 inches high, 48 inches wide, and 28 inches deep. It’s made of steel with a double copper and black powder coat and features over 250 multi-color LED lights inside. A video showing the different stages of illumination of the sculpture is visible on www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQiI-PHzuA8.

“I had the vision for this sculpture in my head years ago, and I knew I couldn’t let go of that vision until I made the sculpture a reality. I named it ‘ Inner Peace’ because of the soft glow that pours from the sculpture. It represents letting our inner peace, beauty and love shine out into the world,” Bellefeuille said.

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

“Among all the animals in the animal kingdom, I identify with the weird and fascinating uniqueness of the giraffe,” Bellefeuille said. “The giraffe is my favorite animal.”

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

For more on Matt Bellefeuille’s “Inner Peace” and to see more photos, visit www.thebluemoongallery.com, or send a request to Kendra Kett, Director of Blue Moon Gallery, at [email protected] or call (224) 388-7948.

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