Tuesday, May. 31st, 2016

An Eye for the Everyday

Among the photographs displayed in the exhibit Through Daniel’s Eyes are the June 1905 image of children playing in floodwater
Among the photographs displayed in the exhibit Through Daniel’s Eyes is this June 1905 image of children playing in floodwater.

In the Age of the Selfie, when seemingly every moment is digitally documented by the handy devices we carry in our pockets, it’s hard to imagine a time when photography was a rarity, often reserved for only the most solemn and ceremonial of occasions. In fact, barely a century ago cameras were still relatively uncommon, which explains why the photos of your ancestors are likely limited to a handful of stiff studio portraits rather than stacks of candid snaps.

Against this photographic backdrop – pun intended – the works of turn-of-the-century everyman photographer Daniel Bastian Nelson are a pleasant and engrossing surprise. Nelson was born in Norway in 1874 and moved to Eau Claire at the age of six. In 1898, Nelson – a lumber-mill worker and later a carpenter – bought a Cyclone No. 3 box camera in 1898. Over the next two decades, he used the camera to create hundreds of glass-plate negatives, 415 of which were recently donated to UW-Eau Claire’s McIntyre Library Special Collections and Archives.

“This is an amateur photographer, and these were the early days of amateur photography,” explains UWEC history professor John Mann. “You don’t see a lot of these sorts of collections preserved. You see collections of professional photographers preserved. … Perhaps relatedly, a lot of the images he captures are candid ones.”

The images may have remained obscure were it not for the work of students in Mann’s public history seminar. Under the direction of Mann, university archivist Greg Kocken, and the Chippewa Valley Museum staff, the students created a fascinating exhibit exploring Nelson’s photographs and what they reveal about life in Eau Claire a century ago.

The exhibit, Through Daniel’s Eyes, opened in mid-May in the auditorium at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Carson Park. In November, the exhibit will move to the UWEC campus, and eventually it will make its way to the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire and likely other sites after that. It features more than 30 of Nelson’s photographs, which are coupled with explanatory material written and researched by the students on themes including Eau Claire’s built environment, everyday pastimes, floods, saloon culture, and Putnam Park (which then, as now, was an urban gem).

Daniel Nelson (front right in the photo) enjoying a beer with friends.
Daniel Nelson (front right in the photo) enjoying a beer with friends.

In one image, cited by Chippewa Valley Museum director Carrie Ronnander as a favorite, children grin as they splash and paddle in the waters of a 1905 flood. The details (the children’s clothing, the cow grazing in a city backyard) are engrossing, as well as the questions the image raises. (For example, would modern parents let their kids frolic, seemingly unsupervised, in floodwaters?) In another, a group of solemn young men pose in front of washed-out railroad tracks, a church steeple rising eerily from the mist behind them.

“The prints produced from the glass plate negatives are strikingly clear and detailed,” Ronnander says, “but I think the real beauty of the exhibit is its ability to take us into the world of everyday people. I really like how the students used the photos to launch into larger stories about what Eau Claire was like in the early 20th century.”

Mann says Nelson’s photographs offer more than just historic interest – they’re aesthetically pleasing, too. “As time went on, his pictures are better framed and they became more interesting in terms of subject matter,” Mann says. “I do think that he had an eye for it.”

You’ll find the photo exhibit Through Daniel’s Eyes on display at the Chippewa Valley Museum in Carson Park until October. During the summer, museum hours are 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 1-5pm Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for students and those aged 5-17, and free for kids 5 and under. The museum is free from 5-8pm Tuesday.

A few more of Daniel Bastian Nelson's photos ...

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Monday, May. 30th, 2016

5 of Our Biggest Local Lakes

Lake Wissota (shown here with its plaque)
Lake Wissota (shown here with its plaque)

1. Lake Wissota

At 6,300 acres, Lake Wissota is by far the largest lake in the Chippewa Valley. And it’s literally in the Chippewa Valley: It was created in 1917 by the construction of a hydroelectric dam, so the lake exists in lowland originally carved by the river. Because of the adjacent state park, numerous boat landings, and plentiful fish, it’s also one of the area’s most popular lakes.

2. Holcombe Flowage

Like its downstream cousin, Lake Wissota, the Holcombe Flowage (or, if you prefer, Lake Holcombe) was formed by a hydroelectric dam on the Chippewa River. Depending on which source you trust, the flowage covers either 3,890 or 2,881 acres in Chippewa and Rusk counties. If you’re willing to sponsor an expedition to one of the lakeside resorts, we’d be happy to double-check the measurements.

3. Old Abe Lake

Didn’t know that Wisconsin’s most famous feathered warrior had a namesake lake? Now you do. Old Abe Lake is a 470-acre flowage formed by a dam on the Chippewa River in Jim Falls. Come to pedal the Old Abe Trail, to check out the Old Abe statue, or to fish for the abundant walleye you’ll find in these waters.

This guy knows how to enjoy 154 acres of lake water. (Half Moon Lake)
Now, this guy knows how to enjoy 154 acres of lake water. (Half Moon Lake)

4. Tainter Lake

At 1,752 acres, Tainter Lake is the largest body of water in Dunn County. It takes its name from lumber baron Andrew Tainter, who was behind the decision to build a mill and dam along the Red Cedar River. While the lake is sometimes used for recreation and fishing, phosphorous pollution typically turns it green in the summer.

5. Half Moon Lake

This oxbow-shaped lake, which encircles Carson Park in the middle of Eau Claire, was originally a curve in the Chippewa River that was cut off eons ago when the flowing water decided to take a shortcut. While it’s the only “lake” in the city of Eau Claire, at 154 acres it’s only one-fifth the size of Dells Pond. (And you thought ponds were always smaller than lakes, didn’t you?)

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Wednesday, May. 25th, 2016

5 Forgotten Names for the Mighty Chippewa River

Quick! Find the Chippewa River!
Quick – find the Chippewa River!

1. LA RIVIÈRE DE TAUREAUX SAUVAGES

This poetic French description – which translates as “The River of the Wild Bulls” – is the first recorded name for what we now call the Chippewa River, according to an essay by John Vanek of the Chippewa Valley Museum. It comes from Father Louis Hennepin, who in 1680 became one of the first Europeans to lay eyes on the river. The “bulls” were the bison that roamed the grasslands of western Wisconsin.

2. RIVIÈRE DES BOEUFS

A map published in 1683 to accompany Hennepin’s description of his journey through New France called the waterway “Rivière des Boeufs,” or Buffalo River. This version of the name likely comes from a letter by another French explorer, Robert de La Salle. The modern Buffalo River, as well as Buffalo County, likely trace their names to this origin.

Sadly not pictured: buffalo.
Sadly not pictured: buffalo.

3. RIVIÈRE DE BON SECOURS

“Bon Secours” translates as “Comfort” or “Good Help.” This name was recorded by another Frenchman, Pierre-Charles Le Sueur, who wrote in 1699 that the river was called this because of “the greater number of buffalo, elk, bears, and deer found there.” This name could also be linked to Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, one of the earliest churches in Montreal, the principal French city in North America.

4. BACQUEVILLE

By the early 1700s, French maps assigned the river the name “Bacqueville” in honor of Bacqueville de la Potherie, who published a history of New France.

5. HAHATONOUADEBA

(Say it five times fast.) This is one of the final steps of the name’s evolution into the modern “Chippewa.” As Vanek writes, “Hahatonouadeba is a French approximation of the Dakota Hahatunwan Watpa. The latter word is Dakota for ‘river,’ while the former is what the Dakota call the Ojibwe people.” The Ojibwe are also known as the Chippewa, and it was that name English-speaking explorer Jonathan Carver gave to the river in the 1760s.

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Monday, May. 23rd, 2016

Wisconsin Bike Week 2016: Eau Claire Events (June 2–12)

This year's "Wisconsin Bike Week" from the Wisconsin Bike Federation will take place June 2–12, celebrating all things cycling statewide. Eau Claire is a participating Wisconsin Bike Week city – others include Milwaukee, Madison, and La Crosse – with a slew of different events taking place all over town from family fun rides to commuter stations, bike-in movies and concerts, and information stations.

Scroll down for a list of local Bike Week events!

Volume One and The Local Store are excited. Eau Claire is a city that truly embraces and supports safe cycling, evident not only in our community of biking enthusiasts and our many great bike trails, but also by the number of participating local businesses and sponsors willing to volunteer their time, energy, and/or commodities to support this mission. Local participants and sponsors include the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Volume One, BPAC, Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance, Gordy's, Just Local Food, Soul Brewed Coffee Roasters, CORBA, Riverside Bike & Skate, Friends of the Chippewa River State Trail, and Eau Claire Mobile Bike Repair.

As the Wisconsin Bike Fed itself puts it, let's have some fun and celebrate all the reasons we ride!


Bike Week in Eau Claire is sponsored by Gordy's, Soul Brewed Coffee RoastersJust Local Food, and the Eau Claire Express

 

Other Participating Sponsors:
Wisconsin Bike Federation
Volume One
Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC)
Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance (CVTA)
Friends of the Chippewa River State Trail
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission 
CORBA
Eau Claire Bike & Sport


 

Bike Week Events in Eau Claire
(June 2–12)

Bike Week Kickoff Event

Tuesday June 7 • 6:30am–10am • Volume One/The Local Store (205 N. Dewey St.) parking lot • Join Volume One, the Wisconsin Bike Federation, Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC), Chippewa Valley Transit Alliance (CVTA), Friends of the Chippewa River State Trail, Eau Claire Mobile Bike Repair and other important friends of a bike-friendly Wisconsin who will be on hand for the Bike Week kickoff party with free coffee from Soul Brewed Coffee Roasters, free fruit from Just Local Foods, free breakfast items from Gordy's, unique bikes, and a whole bunch more.

⬇ Scroll down to see all of the other local events! ⬇

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Chippewa Falls Artist Hopes to Crowdfund Mural for Doomed 'Ice House' Building

Check out this great campaign from Chippewa Falls artist Alexandra Moehagen to give an iconic local structure – the "Ice House" building – a proper send off before it's demolished next year so the city can build a handicapped accessible fishing and recreation area. And make sure you watch the video above!

A mock up of Alexandra Moehagen's mural concept for the
A mock up of Alexandra Moehagen's mural concept for the "Ice House" building in Chippewa Falls.

Ice House Mural

GoFundMe link: https://www.gofundme.com/g2eyoc

"My name is Alexandra Moehagen, and I'm an artist living and working in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. As an artist, I have always been drawn to places that are extraordinary in some way. They were not those places owned by the rich and famous, nor those rare sights one would mark on a map, but rather simple places, stumbled upon, that somehow shifted my thinking. The "Ice House" in Chippewa Falls, was one such place.

As a child, I played in Irvine Park as though it was my private backyard. I ran through the trails and climbed the trees, and one day, I looked across the river and saw a tiny, run-down building on the other side. I ran up the bank of the river, trying to get a better look, believing that it was something magical. When I returned home, I asked my mother what it was, and she said, "The Ice House."

This local nickname is actually a misnomer. The building seen above was originally a frozen food locker, but because it was built upon the site of a former ice harvesting storage building, the locals kept on calling it "The Ice House." It was hit by a tornado in 1958 and has not been used in years.

I revisited the site recently and was dismayed. Though the structure is still magical-- trees, shrubs, and flowers have grown up through the interior floor, and when they blossom in the spring, one can hardly see the walls. But the exterior has been marred by graffiti-- vulgar terms, slurs against the police, and plenty of drug references. When I saw this, I tried to imagine the view from across the river, just as I'd seen it years prior. The wonder was gone. Now, it was just a place for vandals to practice their craft. That made me angry. And then it made me inspired.

I spoke to both Mayor Gregg Hoffman and Director of the Parks and Recreation Department Dick Herbert and asked for permission to paint a mural on the Ice House. I asked this even though I know that next year the building will be demolished to make way for a new handicapped accessible fishing and recreation area. I asked, perhaps, BECAUSE I knew the building would soon vanish.

And they said "Yes."

he proposed design, seen below, was approved at the beginning of May. This is a digital rendering; the final will be painted using a combination of spray paint and exterior latex. It has been placed to leave some of the original brick visible, but also cover the graffiti, especially the "F*** the Police" slur on the front.

The funds from this Go Fund Me campaign will be used to locally purchase the supplies and tools needed to complete the mural. If the goal is reached, I will be able to paint the front face of the building as well as the adjoining sides. I hope to begin work at the start of June 2016, and complete it within a month. Of course, this schedule is flexible, and may vary depending on supply availability and weather.

Please consider donating to this campaign. It is my hope and goal to not only cover the ugliness that this building has collected, but also to offer that same spark of magic and curiosity to a new generation-- those bright souls who, upon spying it from the other side of the river, cannot resist investigating further. And for me personally? It will mean the world to me to send this building off in a beautiful way, before it's gone for good."

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Thursday, May. 19th, 2016

Volume One Takes Home Multiple Milwaukee Press Club Awards

Volume One was honored to receive a number of awards in the Milwaukee Press Club's Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism competition for its online efforts.

This was the first time Volume One has entered the annual competition, which has been recognizing outstanding professional and collegiate media in the state of Wisconsin for decades. (The Milwaukee Press Club is the oldest and continuously operating press club in North America.)

Volume One’s staff of designers, programmers, and writers – most notably web developer Don Ross – were awarded a gold award in Best Website Design for VolumeOne.org, a silver award Best Local News or Feature Website for VolumeOne.org, and a silver award for Best Use of Multimedia for its special Music Capital of the North theme site published in July of 2015.

Other winners in these categories included the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, and Milwaukee Magazine.

Volume One’s online editor Mike Paulus remarked, “It’s a fantastic honor to receive this kind of recognition as we’re very proud of our online sites and services and we spend a lot of energy on their design.”

Paulus continued, “In particular we’re proud of our Music Capital of the North site, as it drew together a huge pool of local talent from different creative disciplines. It’s easily our most ambitious special online project to date.“

Entries for the Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism competition are judged by other press clubs from around the country. This year’s winners were announced at a banquet on Friday, May 13, in Milwaukee.

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Will Chippewa Falls Be the First Local City With Pedal Pubs?

A pedal pub in Minneapolis. Image: Sarah Stierch
A pedal pub in Minneapolis. Image: Sarah Stierch

The conversation continues to drive forward as Chippewa Falls’ Public Safety Committee talks more about allowing pedal pubs – or “party bikes” – in the city.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to catch one of these things in action around Milwaukee or Madison, a pedal pub is like a bar on wheels that can carry as many as 16 people – and the people riding on it can pedal it to bars around the city. In some cases, the bike itself is outfitted with bartender.

Dawn Bye, owner of Bye the Willow, wants one and proposed the idea to the committee. She told WQOW she thinks it would be a good idea for Chippewa Falls.

"Seeing the development that is going on in Chippewa, and just the feel of increase in tourism, I think Chippewa is on the mark to be a destination place," Bye told WQOW. "I think that this is a unique idea that could help get those people here."

Her idea for the bike would not allow alcohol to be consumed on it and would be something more family friendly that utilized park routes, according to a Leader-Telegram article. But the idea of an alcohol-friendly route that stopped at three or four bars over a two-hour period is still being considered.

The committee talked about it Tuesday night this week, but nothing has been officially decided since they’re still divided on the matter. Council members did agree that an ordinance will probably need to be made to regulate the pedal pubs.

Volume One started talking about the legality of pedal pubs a few years ago when Milwaukee’s Pedal Tavern was having some issues. At the moment, their patrons can drink as long as they bring their own beer (no more than three drinks of 12oz or less) and the driver’s BAC stays under .02.

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Tuesday, May. 17th, 2016

NEW Michael Perry in Paperback, Plus a Fantastic Debut From Music Writer Steven Hyden

TWO new book releases this week at The Local Store! Michael Perry’s newest book and first adult novel, The Jesus Cow, is now available in signed paperback edition AND music critic, Pitchfork writer and UWEC alum Steven Hyden's new book, Your Favorite Band is Killing Me, which explores nineteen music rivalries and what they say about life, is also available now! Hyden will also be in the Local Store on Friday, June 3rd to read from, discuss, and sign copies of his new book.

But that's not all! The new Jesus Cow paperback includes a special interview with Michael Perry from Eau Claire's own Rob Reid, originally published in Volume One. 

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Xcel Chips in $250,000 for Confluence Project

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In February, planners of the Confluence Project unveiled this new rendering of the proposed arts center, created by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture and Strang Architects. Click for a closer look!

Xcel Energy is helping charge up the Confluence Project with a $250,000 grant toward the downtown performing arts center. Ben Fowke, CEO of the Minneapolis-based utility firm, made the announcement at a press conference Tuesday. “You can really feel the energy and revitalization coming downtown,” said Fowke, who was also in Eau Claire for the firm’s annual shareholder meeting, which will be held Wednesday.

The quarter-million-dollar donation pushes the private fundraising total for the shared community-university arts center past $13 million, with less than $2 million to go to reach the $15 million goal. Overall, the project’s price tag will be $45 million, which will come from a variety of public and private sources.

Dan Clumpner, a principal with Commonweal Development, which is consulting on the development, said the project is still moving toward a groundbreaking in early fall. (The Confluence Center expected to open in 2018.) “The $15 million is very important,” he said of the fundraising goal. “There are some things we’d like to add that would go a little above that,” he added, noting there will be some flexibility to the bidding process to adjust the project’s cost to its needs.

left to right are: Mark Stoering, Meghan Bauer, Tom Barland, Jill Barland, Mark Faanes, and Ben Fowke
Left to right: Mark Stoering, Meghan Bauer, Tom Barland, Jill Barland, Giant Check, Mark Faanes, and Ben Fowke

Xcel is just the latest local business to hand over a giant check (above); other large-scale donors have included RCU, JAMF Software, Charter Bank, Market & Johnson, OakLeaf Medical Network physicians, and many more.

Xcel has a long history in downtown Eau Claire. Its predecessor, Northern States Power Co., was headquartered downtown for most of the 20th century, first in a South Barstow Street building that was razed to make way for Haymarket Landing (the Confluence Project’s residential and commercial component) and later just down the street near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, which is now home to Phoenix Park.

To learn more about the Confluence Project, communityfortheconfluence.org.

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Whad’Ya Know? Farewell Road Show to Feature The Joynt, Kubb, J.E. Sunde, and Local Meat

Michael Feldman
Michael Feldman

Since 1985, Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? has been a comedic mainstay on Wisconsin Public Radio, a two-hour, wisecrack-filled dessert next to the (grass-fed) meat and (organic) potatoes of typical public radio programming. For perspective, that 31-year run is longer than Johnny Carson, Larry King, or Merv Griffin helmed their iconic talk shows. At one point, Feldman’s call-in/comedy quiz show was broadcast on more than 300 stations nationwide, reaching more than 1.5 million listeners. Sadly, back in March, WPR decided to pull the plug on Feldman at the end of June – which means humorous audience banter and piano- and bass-driven jazz will no longer be listeners’ Saturday morning soundtrack. If there’s a silver lining to the bad news, it’s that you can have the historic privilege of being a member of the live audience for the show’s final tour date on Saturday, May 21, at the State Theatre. (The very last show will be broadcast from Madison on June 25.) The just-announced guest lineup features a smorgasbord of Chippewa Valley culture: Bill Nolte, owner of The Joynt, a venerable Water Street watering hole; Eric Anderson, founder of the U.S. National Kubb Championship; Bob Adrian of Rump’s Butcher Shoppe in Altoona and the new Hanger 54 Grill in Eau Claire; and musical guest J.E. Sunde, formerly of The Daredevil Christopher Wright. Expect lots of Feldman’s inimitably quick wit as well as the Whad’Ya Know? Band, All the News That Isn’t, the Town of the Week, plus two rounds of the weekly quiz. If you’re a fan of Feldman, what’s the cost of a ticket compared with the memories of being in one of his final radio audiences? To riff on a familiar quip, “Not much.”

Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? • Saturday, May 21, 9:30am-noon • The State Theatre, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire • $35 • 715-832-ARTS (2787) • info@eauclairearts.comeauclairearts.com

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