Eaux Claires Goes Huge on 2017 Art Installations

Eric Christenson, photos by Lee Butterworth, Luong Huynh

The Big Eaux will return to Eaux Claires in 2017.
"The Big EAUX" will return to Eaux Claires in 2017.

The Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival is just about four weeks away, and they just announced their mind-bending slate of visual arts, performance pieces, sound installations, artistic collaborations, and literature events that will happen at Troix on June 16 and 17. Getting a glimpse like this at some of the experiential works the curators have planned is making the festival more real than ever.

This year, we’re seeing festival mainstays like The Banks evolve into different landscapes, new works from artists featured at Eaux Claires past like VNESSWOLFCHILD, Chuck-U, and Chippewa Valley native Davy Sumner’s sound installation work. We’ll get to see tons of wild new ideas play out, including some seriously large-scale sculptures, live painting, murals, dance performances, new stages with new designs, and a "Mom Booth,” where a bunch of real moms (even some of the artist’s moms) will hang out and talk to fest-goers and give hugs and motherly life advice. And lest we forget “The Big EAUX” installation by Eau Claire’s Antic Studios greeting you on the way into the grounds. Plus, we’ll get to see the work of Eau Claire artists Holli Jacobsen, who’s creating a “Moss Cave” in the woods, and Kevin Michael Scheid, who will make tons of balloon art and release them during musical performances.

If you head over to the www.eauxclaires.com, you can see the full digital presentation of the lineup (and also learn more and buy tickets). Here’s the arts lineup in full:


Artist: Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels (New York, NY)
Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels is an Australian-American sculptor who makes large-scale installations inspired by fantastical blueprint drawings.

“Fluid Process"

Artist: The Pickup Music Project (Boston, MA)
"Fluid Process" is an interactive sound sculpture that makes music with falling water.


Artist: Intermedio | Eric Blyth, Sam Ferris-Morris, Justin West (Cincinnati, OH)
“Tremolos" is a multichannel speaker installation that explores the physical expression of amplitude modulation.

“no [space] for time"

Artist: Concrete Pig (Minneapolis, MN)
This installation eludes any sense of reality we are accustomed to. Another world altogether, scratches in film, media consumed, past forgotten. All in an illusion where rocks float to the surface.


Artist: Erlend Neumann (Hudson, NY)
This sculpture exemplifies Neumann’s sculptural approach of minimal yet complex forms which can have multiple arrangements which work with the physical and the negative space.


Artist: Erlend Neumann (Hudson, NY)
Expanding on the work displayed in Neumann's “SOURCE" installation(s), The design for the “Sparreaux" stage is a take-off from the classic tweeter design found in loud-speakers. The intention is to create a structure which is beautiful and can assist in the projection of sound naturally through its form.

“The Banks”

Artists: Michael Brown and Clearwing Productions (Eau Claire / Milwaukee, WI)
The next evolution of the "The Banks" continues the creative initiative set out from the first two editions of Eaux Claires. The mission of this performance space is to alter how audience and artist interact with an emphasis on incorporating experimenal video and audio elements to produce a unique viewing environment. For Troix, "The Banks" will be an experimental venue-in-the-round that is set amongst the woods and encourages audiences to move around the performance area and experience impromptu sets from multiple vantage points.

“The Ampools”

Artists: Michael Brown and Carl Faber (Eau Claire, WI / Portland, OR)
Lighting designers Carl Faber and Michael Brown have been collaborating together since their introduction at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2005. Expanding on their work from previous editions of Eaux Claires, "The Ampools" is a site-specific lighting installation that encompasses the entire festival grounds. This year includes more area to discover in the woods as you explore Eaux Claires at night.

“The Big EAUX"

Artist: Antic Studios (Eau Claire, WI)
Returning for its third incarnation at Eaux Claires, "The Big EAUX" is a 3D-mapped art installation by Antic Studios - a local production company widely known for intricate stage designs and stunning visual content.  Standing at close to 8' tall and 40' wide, the installation is a perfect reminder of our place and time over the weekend.

“Mom Booth”

Artist: Andy DuCett (Minneapolis, MN)
Ask about life’s big questions, get a hug or some help with your homework, and grab some sunscreen from Mom. Staffed by real moms from the local community, including mothers of artists at the festival, the "Mom Booth" is an opportunity to engage with the familiar notions of motherhood and see how they change from person to person.

“The Woods: A Way of Seeing Things" from 2016.

“The Woods: A Way of Seeing Things"

Artists: Krista Stout, Sol McCormick, and Joseph Stout (Minneapolis, MN)
Making its second appearance at Eaux Claires, "The Woods" is an invitation to see things. It's an invitation to look past the meadow's mown grass to where things are a little shadier, a little more secret, a little wilder. 


Artist: Chris Kallmyer (Los Angeles, CA)
One thousand live crickets are amplified throughout the Eaux Claires woods. Installed in their natural environment, the crickets create a sound that points to memory, the passage of time, and the poetics of place.

“The Living Room"

Artists: Andy DuCett and Chris Kallmyer (Minneapolis, MN / Los Angeles, CA)
An Upper Midwestern living room planted in the Eaux Claires woods. Come take a nap, watch the trees from the couch, or listen to some sounds on our vintage stereo console. If you're lucky, those sounds may just be impromptu listening sessions of unreleased music from our artists and friends.


Artist: Kristina Rolander (Milwaukee, WI)
For Eaux Claires III, Kristina will create an immersive stage design uniting art, audience, and performer in a heightened sensorial experience. With diorama-inspired structures, hanging elements, and handpainted backdrops, the musicians will perform inside a custom-made environment. By utilizing specific paints, the colors will transform under different lights, from day into night. The stage design itself will never change, however one’s perception of it will. The final piece will be a truly site-specific work, infused with the spirit of the surrounding forest, prairie, and land. 

“Eddy Currents"

Artist: Davy Sumner (Los Angeles, CA)
Eddy Currents is a mechatronic percussion instrument, named for a shared phenomenon between loops of electrical current and analogous circular motions in rivers. Steel spheres are propelled by electromagnetic forces to create abrupt attacks and granular decays as elements in a spatialized, chaotic composition. Residual energies from the coiled magnets are funneled to create underwater eddies that visually echo and sustain the electrical pulses of the music


Artist: VNESSWOLFCHILD (Detroit, MI)
A roaming and evolving performance art project taking form in different shapes and configurations throughout the festival. The less you know, the better your interpretation.


Artist: John Mark Creative (Minneapolis, MN)
John Mark is a Choreographer and Creative Director whose clients include Lizzo, Har Mar Superstar, Weird Al Yancovik, Tickle Torture, the Afghan Whigs, Little Scream, the New Pornographers, and many more. “DECORUM," an original dance series for Eaux Claires, is inspired by PSA's from the 1960's and other questionable guides to life.

"Balloon Artist"

Artist: Kevin Michael Scheid (Eau Claire, WI)
Kevin Michael Scheid inflates balloons of different shapes and sizes during concerts, as a form of performance art. He sets them free over large crowds in hopes of encouraging participation, while creating wonderment and spreading joy. All are invited to interact with, play, and have fun with the balloons throughout the duration of Eaux Claires III.

“Crescent Field”

Artist: Kelie Bowman (Brooklyn, NY / Sunset, SC)
Kelie Bowman's current body of work explores the ephemeral qualities of light by shifting depth and distance in a still medium. "Crescent Field" portrays multiple landscapes at once as if looking through a kaleidoscopic horizon. These large-scale murals encourage a considered connection to our environment and speak of shifting landscapes, rising waters, and exploring the vastness of space and nature.

“The Driftless Area: Trapezoidal Study"

Artists: Burlesque Public Works Division (Minneapolis, MN)
This installation will be a base layer consisting of three walls, separate yet together, which will become a composition built up of layers of painted and physical typography and signage. 

“We Were Seeds"

Artist: Landon Sheely (La Crosse, WI)
Classically untrained and foolishly optimistic, Landon Sheely hopes to hearten the viewer, often using childlike form and idealism, typically through print, but also making common use of any medium that doesn’t require patience or precision.

“Live Painting by Justin Orvis Steimer"

Artist: Justin Orvis Steimer (New York, NY)
Justin Orvis Steimer will live-paint during the festival in reaction to the music being created around him.

“Where Peggy-O Meets Mandolin Rain"

Artist: Casey O’Connell (San Francisco, CA)
This mural was orignally created during Eaux Claires 2016, with its completion following the close of the festival. Troix marks the first time this work has been made accessible for public viewing.

“CHUCK-U Coloring Wall"

Artist: Chuck-U (Minneapolis, MN)
Chuck-U is a prolific illustrator and artist making his second appearance at Eaux Claires. He draws strange creatures in strange environments in a style that can be described as “very linesey” as in, he uses lots of lines. At this year's festival Chuck will be creating a site-specific work that encourages audience and participants to help fill in the lines and color the wall as the piece evolves.

“The Poetry of Eleanor Perry Smith"

Artist: Eleanor Perry Smith (Denver, CO / Milwaukee, WI)
Eleanor Perry-Smith is a performance poet and writer. Her work blends classic verse with contemporary grit.

"Eaux Claires Literary Program"

Narrator: Michael Perry (Eau Claire, WI)
Writers: Dean Bakopoulos & Alissa Nutting, Mary Cutrufello, Guante, Daniel José Older, Patti See
This year fest features lots of writers, and again they will meet fest-goers in a quiet place. And in the spirit of collaboration and crossover, the writers will all appear and pop up in other contexts throughout the grounds.

“Moss Cave"

Artist: Holli Jacobson (Eau Claire, WI), with Lang Jacobson, Elizabeth Harclerode and Dagmar Beckel-Machyckova
"Moss Cave" is a sheltered bed of moss that encourages visitors to stop, rest, listen, and return to the festival with renewed energy.