New sculptures unveiled for next Sculpture Tour

The 6th series of the Sculpture Tour’s works of art are now in place around Eau Claire

More stories from Brian Sheridan


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

The sixth Sculpture Tour Eau Claire unveiled 34 new sculptures from artists around the world. Ron Simmer’s piece, “What the Nose Knows” is at the intersection of North Barstow and East Madison Street.

The coming of May not only brings a fresh new look to Eau Claire with the rolling green fields and blossoming of trees and flowers, but a new look to downtown as another year of sculptures come to the streets.

Now on its 6th season, Sculpture Tour Eau Claire unveils 34 new sculptures from artists all around the world. Artists who crafted their scrap metal, marble or bronze into twisting, intricate and detailed works of art have been as close as Eau Claire and as far as countries like Canada and England.

Executive Director of Sculpture Tour Eau Claire Michelle Koehn said the sculptures provide a great contribution to Eau Claire’s revitalization of downtown, as they can be found on Barstow Street, Water Street and the Mayo Clinic campus, and with it being a free public arts service, they are something the whole city can enjoy.

“The whole purpose is to make this public arts program in the community very user friendly,” Koehn said, “to make it accessible to as many people regardless of their age or demographic or where they come from.”

She said the feedback on this tour has only been positive and hears comments from folks about how they love seeing their kids interact with the sculptures where they can climb on them, which is a special element to Eau Claire’s outdoor sculpture program.

With a team of around 20 to 40 volunteers during a season, the Sculpture Tour looks to find works of art through their connection with the sculpture artwork network where Eau Claire partners with cities of similar size and art interests and exchange art.

When looking for a piece for the tour, Koehn said they look for elevated talent in an artist, a creative use of material and art providing a unique point of view artistically. Helping to contribute to the diversity in the series is Vancouver, Canada resident Ron Simmer and his piece “What the Nose Knows.”

Simmer’s piece can be found at the intersection of North Barstow and East Madison Street. It is a massive fiberglass nose and pair of red glasses made out of steel poles and aluminum.

According to Simmer’s artist statement, the piece is a comment on the “nosiness” of corporations and government in our society. The reflective mirror sunglass lenses convey the element of secrecy and paranoia that seems to permeate all levels of government, military and industry in North America.

Simmer has a degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and likes to incorporate humor into his works. Although, he said the people of Washington state were not quite as humored by it when the sculpture started acting dangerously.

“I got a phone call one day and people were going crazy because the lenses of the glasses were actually focusing on the ground and starting fires,” Simmer said. “People were very upset.”

Now with some tweaking to the lenses and facing a direction where fires probably won’t happen, the statue has become much more friendly.

There’s plenty of time to gawk and marvel at the giant nose and the rest of this year’s creations since Eau Claire will have them from now until April of next year.