BEACH PARK – Ever since he was a young boy, Mike Bellefeuille, who grew up in Gurnee but now resides in Beach Park, always has taken a keen interest in the arts.
Like many young creative minds growing up, Bellefeuille began experimenting with simple tasks such as designing new logos for his favorite bands or doodling characters for fun in his sketchbooks.
His interest in metals emerged when his brother, already an established metal artist, challenged him to go further with his artistic ideas and talents. Bellefeuille decided to redesign the number plate for his motorbike. Wanting to make it look unique and original – and even enhance the aerodynamics – Bellefeuille quickly realized he had found a new artistic path.
His newfound interest in creating metal art blossomed into a thriving output of decorative and expressive art over the past 10 years, making Bellefeuille one of the most popular and collectible artists in northern Illinois.
Bellefeuille primarily works with found objects made of many metals. His artistic vision and technical skills as a sculptor working with metal – cutting, heating, forming and welding – transform these found objects into dynamic, colorful art that is representational, abstract or functional. Bellefeuille selects materials based on shape and also on color, which is sometimes altered by heat, sanding, moisturization or creating natural patinas. He often immerses metal pieces in liquids or will even leave them out in the rain and snow to achieve additional rust, texture and color.
“Generally, I am drawn to the natural state of metal, which I believe creates a more interesting, finished product and which sometimes suggests to the viewer the original object it once was,” he said in a news release.
Working out of his garage and collecting discarded metal objects such as filing cabinets, shelving, wagons, oil drums, shed doors, typewriter parts, etc., Bellefeuille enjoys creating metal art in several styles: three-dimensional representational animals and insects, wall-dependent abstract compositions and utilitarian pieces such as modern-styled clocks and floral vessels. Bellefeuille’s abstract compositions are influenced by the clean lines and simple shapes of the midcentury style as well as Cubists such as Picasso and Alfred Gockel.
Bellefeuille believes the popularity of his work also is driven by the familiarity and nostalgia felt from his use of found materials.
Some of his most sought-after pieces come from his line of metal hearts fashioned from green fishing tackle boxes, children’s red wagons, blue gas cans and colorful wheelbarrows.
Bellefeuille’s creative output is fueled by his interest in machinery, taking things apart and rebuilding them, seeking out new materials to work with and finding sources of inspiration in the most mundane and simple bit or scrap of metal and forging it into something beautiful and expressive.
“My art is personable and different,” Bellefeuille said. “Each metal piece, though repurposed, becomes highly original and sometimes mysterious from its initial usage.”
Bellefeuille is represented by the Blue Moon Gallery in Grayslake, where he presents his metal artwork at monthly exhibitions on the fourth Saturday of the month from 6 to 9 p.m. The gallery is open on weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. and is located at 18620 Belvidere Road in Grayslake.
To learn more about Mike Bellefeuille’s art, visit www.thebluemoongallery.com