Question the Locals: Rose Dolan-Neill

free-wheelin' discussion with local folks

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

This local has a lotta local he(art). Rose Dolan-Neill grew up on the north side of Eau Claire and now works in downtown E.C., having made a career out of her love for the arts. (She’s the Assistant Director of Artistic Programming at the Pablo Center). Rose knows the nooks and crannies of the community like the back of her hand, spending much of her time enjoying our slice of Wisconsin’s outdoor beauty – when she’s not chowin’ on some sushi.

I want to create art and leave a legacy of creativity in our community.

South side or North side?

Easy. Northside. All the way. I grew up in the Planets by the airport. My kid days were filled with biking to Riverview Park, ice-skating all night long at Sam Davey, building forts wherever there was a vacant patch of woods-just being outside and on the run all the time. My friends and I roamed the neighborhood, climbing trees, digging holes, and spying on people. I would say we were bored, but now that I look back on it, that all just seems like what I wish I could always do. 

What place in town considers you a “regular”?

Irvine Park and Lake Wissota State Park are places that I frequent most regularly. I’m hoping trees along those paths consider me a regular; I spend a lot of time with them and they know some of my secrets.

If you were on your deathbed and you had to choose one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be?

The Sakura and the Scotty Rolls from Sakura in Chippewa Falls. You’ve got smoky and spicy flavors in the Scotty and you’ve got your sweet and tangy flavors with the Sakura roll. Just wonderful!  

Water Street or Downtown? 

Water Street is where I keep some of my best memories. I grew up at Racy’s, (no joke, I should have paid them rent, I don’t think that $1 cup of coffee covered it,) and I worked at Truckers Union for 7 years. The logbooks we kept: yowza! I have spent countless good evenings with friends at the Joynt and the absorption of ideas and people from those places have been jumbled up into the person that I am working on. 

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area? 

I would love to see more people buying local art and experiencing the performing arts. I would love to see more artists of all genres moving to the Chippewa Valley not just because it is a beautiful place to live but because they feel supported financially. I would like to see more galleries and more artistic venues downtown. We can’t have that kind of development until more people in this region realize that the arts are for them and that they will enjoy it a lot more knowing the good that it does in our community.  

What has been your favorite exhibit at the Pablo?

“Twisted Play Things” was an absolute joy to curate. It was our second season right before COVID. I really enjoyed working with each of the artists on exhibit: a handful of curious minds creating artwork that explored puzzles and nightmares and the things that go bump in the night. Some of the artwork on display was a small Frida Kahlo skeleton, stuffed animals created with recycled parts and stitched together beautifully invoking elegant Frankenstein creatures, carousel horses, and some creepy-looking siblings. Eerie music box tunes filled the air; it was a fully creepy experience!

Weirdest thing you’ve seen in Eau Claire? 

 I really enjoy walking the Chippewa River Bike Trail on my lunch break and I have witnessed some pretty usual wildlife activity on my strolls, but it always takes me by surprise in the heart of a city. A few years ago there was a beaver making a den under the Grand Avenue Footbridge, that was cool to see. One time a really long snake tried to climb up the inside wall of the tunnel under Barstow Street as I walked by; I involuntarily screamed and then played it totally cool for a family walking by saying, “I wasn’t scared of the snake, it just startled me.”     

Rose's Shoutouts

Joel’s Auto. Joel’s the best! Great conversations, great mechanic, great human! He probably knows your grandfather, and can tell you stories about him that would shock you.

Wisconsin Shakespeare Festival.  July of this year is WSF’s innaugural summer with a mainstage performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring a diverse cast of theatre folk from across the United States right here in downtown Eau Claire.

The climbing tree along the C.F. trail.  I’ve been up there, legs dangling, sniffing the air, maybe muttering some old songs, in all seasons. If you don’t mind a few scrapes it is well worth it to have that sense of clinging to sturdy bark that is so connected to the ground.