2020 may go down in history as the year of the mural in Eau Claire: Among the literal bright spots during this challenging time have been the profusion of outdoor wall art popping up in town.
In July, visiting artist Clark Stoeckley painted two timely “VOTE” murals on downtown buildings (the side of Ramone’s Ice Cream Parlor facing Farwell Street and the back of Details clothing store at Water Street and Fifth Avenue).
Then a group of artists created a Black Lives Matter mural on the back of the Lismore Hotel downtown, which features the faces of George Floyd, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and other Black people who died in police custody.
In late summer, artist Rehannah Petska created a mural reading “Love is the Key” on the back of The Metro, facing Lake Street, and other murals are planned nearby thanks to the upcoming “Color Block” project.
Add these to other murals created in recent years – including the Bon Iver album art next to the old State Theatre and the Instragram-worthy mural by Chicago artist Molly Z a few blocks down the street – and Eau Claire is on track to become Mural City.
Have you studied the blade? Considering Eau Claire started as a lumber town, it’s not surprising that axe throwing has caught on as a recreational trend here.
In late 2019, Action City (2402 Lorch Ave., Eau Claire) opened the area’s first axe-throwing facility. (If you’re not into sharp objects, Action City has go-karts, a trampoline park, and an arcade, too.)
Over the summer, axe-throwing has popped up in two more places: Ironside Axe Club (2930 London Road, Eau Claire) and Stout Craft Co. (1501 N. Broadway, Menomonie). If you feel like taking out your aggression by throwing a sharp object as a target, these places have you covered.
Taylor Swift surprised the world – and topped the charts – when her new album, Folklore, dropped in July. The disc’s second single, “Exile,” featured the voice (and composing talent) of Eau Claire native and Blugold grad Justin Vernon (better known as Bon Iver). While Bon Iver has won a couple of Grammys, “Exile” marks the band’s first appearance on the Hot 100. Thanks, T-Swizzle!
Don’t be surprised if you see some bulldozers and barricades on and around the UW-Eau Claire campus – excellence, as they say, is always under construction.
The new Flesch Family Welcome Center, which is going up on Roosevelt Avenue, is expected to be finished in the summer of 2021. Renovations also began in 2020 on Governors Hall on upper campus.
Meanwhile, work to create the Sonnentag Centre – a major event center on Menomonie Street that would serve both the campus and community and would replace Zorn Arena – was put on hold in April 2020 in part because of COVID-19.
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