Edgeville Buzz

New Edgewater Art Initiative Mural Will Allow Residents To Be A Part Of Its Message

It’s times like these that not only test the entire planet but also local communities where we get a better feel for the magnitude of a pandemic which continues to claim so many lives. A new Edgewater art installation at 5524 N Broadway however aims to remind people that in the midst of tragedy, financial hardship and questionable leadership, everything will be OK.

Since Michelle and Robyn Lytle decided to add some color to Edgewater last year by bringing vibrant public murals to normally bland neighborhood walls, the community has been inspired by the ongoing project and their messages. The works include Dolly Parton’s iconic face adorning 5517 N Broadway, the loving friendship of Charlie Brown and Linus on display at 5525 N Broadway, and a sometimes overlooked puppy that lays peacefully at 5451 N Broadway.

The Lytles, who own the Edgewater event space the Lytle House at 5517 N Broadway, wanted the next project to speak to the current global pandemic that is overwhelming the nation with anxiety and loss. After searching the internet, the couple discovered another art initiative that had taken over the outside of a gallery in an Atlanta Suburb with the words ‘Everything Will Be OK’ prominently on display.

After the couple agreed the Atlanta mural’s message was the perfect subject for the next Lytle House Art Initiative installation, Michelle Lytle reached out to the Atlanta mural’s artist Jason Kofke and asked if they could install a similar work here in Edgewater as well. With Kofke already installing the artwork and its phrase throughout the world over the last decade, he was enthusiastic for Chicago to be the next location for the hopeful message.

“This message isn’t one that you only need to hear during a pandemic,” said Michelle Lytle. “It resonates with everyone and anyone and whatever it is that is worrying you that day. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to install this particular piece. It was simple. Black and white. Easy to read font. It allows for the viewer to relate to it in the way that they feel in that moment. Jason deliberately made these choices in its design and I think it really works.”

Through their research on Kofke’s project, the Lytles also learned that in Atlanta recently the project’s ‘Everything Will Be OK’ message was put onto small yard signs that allowed individuals to bring home the message and expand the mural into their own front yards. Since selling the signs there, the proceeds from the campaign have exceeded $40K and will be donated to local artists affected by COVID-19.

With the Atlanta drive financially helping out so many in that city, the Lytles wanted to bring that initiative to Edgewater as well. With 100% of the proceeds going to the local food pantry Care For Real, ‘Everything Will Be OK’ signs are available now for purchase at Pizzeria Aroma (5350 N Broadway) for $20 a piece and can be added to any carry-out or delivery order. Residents can be an extension of the mural by displaying the inspirational signs on their front lawns or windows.

“At a time when the entire world is going through a crisis, these signs are starting to get noticed and shared,” Michele Lytle added. “We loved that we could take this message and continue to spread it while also being able to raise funds for our local neighborhood food pantry Care For Real. We are continuing what was started in Atlanta and Savannah before that. With Jason bringing this to communities across the country, it’s a really great way to support your community both in spreading hope and bringing aid.”

The initiative’s original concept came from a college thesis by Kofke that studied communal catastrophic events and how people processed them. Through that research he realized that even though he cannot predict both personal and communal crisis, he could however act before something occurs by having a method ready for processing change when tragedy strikes again.

That theory was put to the test after Kofke implemented the campaign in 2010 during an artist residency in Japan. He was invited to install the ‘Everything Will Be OK (すべてうまくいく)’ throughout the Ibaraki Prefecture. A few weeks after his return back to the USA, the 2011 Tohoku earthquake struck and the building in which he had worked began to house many refugees affected by the disaster.

Kofke said that those who had seen the artwork throughout the Ibaraki area were positively affected by its message. He now hopes that the artwork’s powerful concept will have the same affect in Edgewater.

“Working with Michelle and the Lytle House has allowed the project to grow beyond the South East where I’m based,” said Kofke. “But more importantly, It will offer direct support to a specific community within Chicago with funding through sales of ‘Everything Will Be OK’ products. The partnership with Care For Real as a channel to get support to this community was Michelle’s clever idea and I was happy to see this project become part of it. I’m hoping this gives people both direct abstract support.”

Kofke hopes that Chicago’s participation in the  initiative will be a stepping stone to other cities including Rapid City, SD where a large number of Lakota craftspeople who rely on tourism have been greatly affected by the pandemic.

You can currently purchase signs from Pizzeria Aroma by calling (773) 769-4900. The Lytle’s are hoping other businesses will sell the signs soon as well.

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