Sculpture Tour 2019 Flows Into Downtown Eau Claire

Lauren Fisher, photos by Lauren Fisher

Across the street from the North Barstow Parking Ramp on N. Barstow Street.
Across the street from the North Barstow Parking Ramp on N. Barstow Street.

The 2018 sculpture tour came down mid-April, making way for dozens of new works of art throughout downtown Eau Claire. Sculpture Tour Eau Claire placed 54 sculptures this year, making Eau Claire’s tour the second largest of its kind in the United States.

“For a city of this size to be able to support a tour of this size is phenomenal,” tour Executive Director Julie Pangallo said. This year, about a third of the artwork on display in the tour was created by regional or local artists.

“When I first started with the tour five years ago, we were trying to get to 10 percent local artists,” Pangallo said. “So we’ve been working really hard on trying to find local artists, and to cooperate with local artists to develop their work.”

Sculpture Tour Eau Claire collaborates with four other cities to host the annual summer event, selecting some of the art for each tour in a football-style draft from the partner network. Thanks to this partnership, Pangallo said, they can choose among the best of the best.

This year’s tour features a collaborative sculpture commissioned by tour partners Jamf and the RCU foundation, a playable xylophone in front of the Children’s Museum, and a dragon outside of Houligans Steak and Seafood Pub.

South side of the Barstow St. Bridge, across the street from Haymarket Landing
South side of the Barstow Street Bridge, across the street from Haymarket Landing.

Besides the increased number of local artists included in the tour, the organization has seen a number of new developments for 2019. Sculpture Tour Eau Claire is now housed in a permanent office space in the Brent Douglas Flowers building on 610 S Barstow St. The three best-in-show winners from 2018 will be placed on display in Haymarket Plaza upon its completion for the rest of 2019.

The people’s choice sculpture from 2018, “Salmon Runner” by Heather Wall, was purchased and given to the City of Eau Claire for permanent display on the RCU side of the Confluence Crossing bridge. The second and third place winners – a trio of humpty-dumpty jazz artists and an impressionistic work called “Yosemite,” – along with the first place winner, each won a $1,000 prize.

Voting for the 2019 sculpture tour will begin at the end of May and run through mid-September.

Sculpture Tour Eau Claire does not use tax dollars to produce each year’s tour, Pangallo said. “I think it’s really important for people to remember that this is done totally by public support, by businesses stepping up and saying they want this to happen.” For more information about this year’s tour, visit their website here.