Artist Mike Helbing created this artwork, sponsored by Fox/Atkins Development, LLC. Beautiful Storm is located directly west of iHotel on South First Street in Champaign.
This sculpture, Beautiful Storm, is exactly as it sounds. It reflects those afternoon storms when the electricity of the sky can be felt from through the windows. The rays of the sun are somehow illuminating the dark clouds that create rumblings that surround you, resulting in an intense glow that blankets the local landscape. The sculpture is located on South First Street in Champaign. It sprouts suddenly from the lush grass, much like how a storm suddenly rolls in. Long thin rods of metal hold the cloud shape high above the ground. Artist Michael Gerald Helbing from Berwin Illinois saw this piece to be about “the visual appeal of a thunder cloud in the late afternoon, when the sun lights up the otherwise black and heavy clouds, as though it is play with them.” The artist played with the metal of the sculpture much like how the light plays and dances through clouds in a storm. The placement of the sculpture itself is sudden and creates drastic contrast with the surrounding natural elements. It looks as though the sculpture could float across the grass and disappear into the distance with the wind.
The cloud is formed with crumpled pieces of metal. Some form rigid lines, while others puff more gently flowing from one area to another. They seem to grow and contract, creating areas of gaps. There are areas of light and dark which reflects the way the colors of rain clouds are not uniform. Flowing from the underbelly of the cloud are strands of metal. They curve around one another some ending in mid air, others following to the ground. These rods mimic the falling of rain. The differing thicknesses of the cylindrical rods suggest that at times during a storm rain can fall gently to the ground, and at others it hits the earth with a tremendous force. The viewer can imagine the rods tracing the paths of rain as they twist and fall from the sky.