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'You Are Beautiful' Artist Unveils Mural Ahead of Beverly Art Walk

By Howard Ludwig | October 10, 2014 8:26am
 Chicago artist Matthew Hoffman unveiled his latest "You Are Beautiful" mural on Thursday — just two days ahead of the Beverly Art Walk. The inaugural event will showcase more than 90 local artists at 38 different venues throughout Beverly. The free art walk runs from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday.
'You Are Beautiful' Mural
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BEVERLY — Chicago artist Matthew Hoffman has a message for the people of Beverly: You Are Beautiful.

Hoffman's latest mural was installed Thursday on the eastern wall of the Beverly Bank branch at 1908 W. 103rd Street.

The mural is a sign that simply reads, "You Are Beautiful." Fifteen Beverly-area schools and organizations participated in the project, each of them decorating one of the letters of the sign.

"If you ask 100 people what [You Are Beautiful] means to them, you get 100 different answers," Hoffman said.

An Ohio native, Hoffman moved to Chicago in 2002 and started making small stickers that read, "You Are Beautiful." He put some stickers up himself and gave others away. The little stickers with the big message soon began popping up everywhere.

Hoffman's fans would mail him pictures of his positive stickers in public places throughout the world, including Russia, Cambodia and even the Great Wall of China. He's now distributed some 2 million stickers, most of which he's given away for free.

"There was no plan. Every step of the way, it has just organically grown," Hoffman said.

The artist has three other "You Are Beautiful" murals in Chicago. Perhaps his most visible work is a giant version of Hoffman's original sticker which faces southbound traffic on South Lake Shore Drive at Oakwood Boulevard. He also has "Beautiful" murals at Roberto Clemente High School and in Rogers Park at the Morse Avenue Metra underpass.

Hoffman's latest piece of public art is one of three Beverly-area murals that are being completed ahead of the Beverly Art Walk.

The Southwest Side art walk will take place from 2-7 p.m. on Saturday as part of Chicago Artists Month. More than 90 local artists will display their work at 38 venues throughout the Beverly community.

Businesses, vacant storefronts and even homeowners have offered to host makeshift art galleries for the afternoon. A pair of free trolleys will shuttle those interested in viewing the art among the various pop-up exhibitions.

"I'm just happy that the weather is going to be nice," said Monica Wilczak, who organized the event in the hopes of raising the profile of Beverly as a destination for artists.

Wilczak and her husband, Chris, moved to the neighborhood in 2005. For years, the graduates of the Art Institute of Chicago felt they were alone as artists living in Beverly.

That changed last year after they met a few fellow artists at an event coordinated by the Beverly Arts Center. After being introduced to other like-minded individuals, Wilczak sought to bring even more local artists out of the shadows.

The Beverly Art Walk is the culmination of Wilczak's efforts. She said participation has exceeded her goals as more than three times as many artists and venues have signed on for the event than she initially anticipated.

Chris Wilczak will be among the artists featured as part of the Beverly Art Walk. His work will be showcased at Horse Thief Hollow, a brewpub at 10426 S. Western Avenue.

On Thursday, he was also helping to finish a mural on southern wall of the local business. The mural will showcase various Chicago landmarks and neighborhoods atop a giant map of the city.

The third mural planned as part of the Beverly Art Walk will be on display at 99th Street and Walden Parkway. The mural will have a storefront motif and faces the Metra tracks.

Chris Wilczak wasn't sure if the mural at Horse Thief Hollow would be completed by Saturday. Regardless, he said the Beverly Art Walk has already been successful in raising the profile of the neighborhood among artists. The event has also successfully coaxed many local artisans to showcase their craft.

"We've found a lot of artists that work from home, and their artwork doesn't doesn't get out that often," Chris Wilczak said.

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