EDGEWATER — Michelle Lytle was in the middle of a major public art project when the coronavirus changed life in unprecedented ways.
The Edgewater-based photographer had been working since late 2019 to install nine murals in her neighborhood over nine months. Works include “Kites Over Edgewater,” which adorns the wall next to the Lytle’s home and studio, and “Edgewater Charlie,” which depicts Charlie Brown and his friend Linus peering over a brick wall on Broadway.
When the coronavirus outbreak hit Chicago, Lytle knew she wanted her project to address the situation and help out in some way. The result is a new mural along Broadway that says “Everything Will Be OK” and a coinciding lawn sign campaign to raise money for Edgewater charity Care For Real.
“All of this hit, and it’s been insane,” Lytle said. “We wanted to do something to help. Anyone whose having a bad day, it’s a message that can help you in those moments.”
The “Everything Will Be OK” mural is the continuation of a public art project started outside Atlanta by artist Jason Kofke. The installations have taken on a new meaning during the coronavirus outbreak, and a town in Georgia began selling yard and window signs with the slogan to raise money for local charities, according to Good Morning America.
Lytle got Kofke’s permission to bring the art campaign to Chicago. The mural is painted on the side of 5524 N. Broadway, which is nearby The Lytle House, the former auto garage that’s now an event space, photographer’s studio and home of Michelle and her family.
Lawn signs identical to the mural have been printed up and are available for $20 at Pizzeria Aroma, 5350 N. Broadway. All proceeds from the lawn sign sale will go to Care For Real, the Edgewater-based charity and food pantry.
Before coronavirus, Care For Real served an average of 5,000 people a month needing assistance with garnering food and personal items or other programming and services. Demand for help has skyrocketed since the coronavirus outbreak, Care For Real Executive Director Lyle Allen previously told Block Club.
A wedding photographer by trade, Lytle said she wanted to help out other small vendors, caterers, servers and bartenders who are struggling through the outbreak. She chose Care For Real because it has pledged to be a lifeline for laid-off service industry workers, Lytle said.
“We’re used to the winter being slow, but it’s starting to hit us now,” Lytle said of the wedding and event photography business she operates with her wife, Robyn. “This isn’t going to last forever, you have to keep in mind.”
Lytle’s mural project was always meant to spread joy and make Edgewater an even brighter place to live and visit. But with the new campaign, Lytle is hoping to be not only a source of joy, but of tangible help to her neighbors in need.
“We love Edgewater,” Lytle said. “Whatever we can do to raise moods, that benefits everybody.”
For more on the Everything Will Be Ok campaign and fundraiser, click here.
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