Art exhibit promotes better self-image


Courtesy Galerie F

Art exhibit promotes better self-image

By Miranda Manier

Patrons at Logan Square’s Galerie F will be confronted by billboards that are not peddling goods or services but rather a matter-of-fact message plastered across the gallery’s walls in 48 different ways: You Are Beautiful. 

You Are Beautiful is a project that has spread its simple, three-word message with stickers and street art, recreated by artists worldwide. These billboards are part of the project’s fifth exhibit in collaboration with Galerie F, 2415 N. Milwaukee Ave., and will be on display Dec. 8–31, according to Galerie F’s website.

The exhibition features to-scale miniatures of the billboard displayed at Lake Shore Drive’s Oakwood Street exit, which was originally part of an art show about street art and graffiti at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., said Matthew Hoffman, artist and You Are Beautiful’s founder. 

Collaboration with a network of artists, including street artists, is central to both Galerie F and You Are Beautiful’s work, said Billy Craven, Galerie F’s owner. That inclination for collaboration and the reputation billboards have among street artists are what make this particular exhibit work so well, Craven added. 

“Billboards are the holy grail of street art and graffiti,” Craven said. “Everyone wants to get up on a billboard [and] risk life and limb. This way is a lot less dangerous.” 

Former graffiti writer and gallery participant Greg Gunter leaned into the street art theme. His piece “Graff God” depicts the Greek god Zeus parting the clouds, graffiti peeking out behind him. 

Hoffman said the exhibit highlights the diversity of the artists. It will include work from fine artists as well as street artists. The exhibit, he said, will also feature artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds, with some artists sending in their contributions from as far away as the Netherlands. 

“My favorite part is that all these different artists are adding their voice to the message,” Hoffman said. “It’s all very unique. Any time you have a collaboration, the results are something you could have never predicted.”

The past four collaborations between You Are Beautiful and Galerie F featured pieces on 2D mediums, such as the famous You Are Beautiful stickers that are posted on many Chicago street corners, Craven said. The inclusion of the 3D billboard medium was an exciting change of pace for him, he noted. 

“Artists I’ve worked with in the [past] that are strictly 2D have gone and created 3D sculptural aspects [for] their signs,” he said. “[There have been] a lot of pleasant surprises.” 

While the billboard medium brings literal dimension to the exhibitions, the message is still simple, Craven explained.

“This is just a reminder of how important it is to be good to each other,” he said. “Be good to yourself, more than anything.”