Eaux Claires Donates ‘Baroque’ Pipe Organ Sculpture to Community

Tom Giffey, photos by Luong Huynh

Photo: Luong Huynh
Photo: Luong Huynh

With a little help from the community, a temporary sculpture built for the just-finished Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival will find a permanent home in Eau Claire.

Thanks to nighttime illumination and some talented keyboard artists, Baroque provided an eerily beautiful addition to the massive artistic gathering. Now, it will be an addition to Eau Claire’s ever-expanding collection of public art.

The massive wire-mesh sculpture of a baroque pipe organ created by renowned Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi was one of the visual – and aural – highlights of the festival. The sculpture, titled simply Baroque, held an organ that was played periodically between large-scale performances on the two nearby main stages. Thanks to nighttime illumination and some talented keyboard artists, Baroque provided an eerily beautiful addition to the massive artistic gathering. Now, it will be an addition to Eau Claire’s ever-expanding collection of public art.

“Basically, we had to move quickly because the festival was being dismantled,” explained Linda John, executive director of Visit Eau Claire, the local tourism promotion agency. “It was either a matter of dismantling and disposing of it or making use of it in some way.”

Photo: Luong Huynh
Photo: Luong Huynh

On Tuesday, the sculpture – which measures 20 feet by 20 feet by 16 feet – was disassembled and shrink-wrapped. On Wednesday, a flatbed truck is expected to deliver it to the City of Eau Claire’s maintenance facility on Forest Street, where it will be stored until it finds a permanent home – possibly in one of the city’s parks, where it could serve as a ready-made (if small) performance venue. (No, the organ won’t be part of it – unless you have a waterproof one you want to donate.)

Like the festival itself, the sculpture was meant to be ephemeral, but an unlikely series of events led to its donation to the community. It began over the weekend when City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle chatted with the artists who were creating a mural titled Public Works Installation: Eau Claire near the Dells stage on the east side of the festival grounds. The colorful mural, made of repurposed wooden signs and other recycled materials, was created by an offshoot of Burlesque of North America, a Minneapolis screen-printing studio. Emmanuelle was surprised to learn that the artists didn’t have any post-festival plans for the mural. “Of course I had to contain myself from falling over,” she said. “And I said, ‘I think I know somebody who can do something about that.’ ” After a quick series of conversations, the mural was donated to the community. Emmanuelle enlisted Visit Eau Claire’s help in moving the mural, which is now stowed in a storage unit awaiting future display.

Dismantling Baroque. Photo: Visit Eau Claire
Dismantling Baroque. Photo: Visit Eau Claire

John said that when the festival’s artistic director, Michael Brown, learned of the mural donation, he contacted Visit Eau Claire with a question: Would the community also like to keep Baroque, which otherwise would be thrown away? John answered yes, and Visit Eau Claire arranged transportation for the sculpture, while the city agreed to store it for the time being.

Brown and festival founder and curator Justin Vernon envisioned seeing Baroque find a home in a public park – and John has cruised around trying to envision where it would fit – but a final decision is far down the road. Conversations about the sculpture’s future are just beginning to take place, so if you’ve got thoughts, the folks at Visit Eau Claire and its Destination Development Committee, which Emmanuelle chairs, would love to hear them. For now, John is just happy the sculpture has a future in Eau Claire: “All Visit Eau Claire wanted to do was to make sure we didn’t miss the opportunity to have a piece of art that’s part of this world-renowned festival,” she said.

 Photo: Visit Eau Claire
Photo: Visit Eau Claire