The arts are all around us

Eau Claire offers many opportunities for cultural growth


Tyler Henderson, Multimedia Editor of The Spectator, plays trombone with local funk band Love Taxi at The Mousetrap Tavern.

One of the first things that comes to mind when comparing Eau Claire to my hometown, Sheboygan, is how immersed this city is in artistic culture. The music scene, art galleries, festivals and shows you can catch around Eau Claire blow Sheboygan out of the water. But I remember when I was a freshman and sophomore, and even as a junior, I didn’t know where, when and how to see these events that make Eau Claire so special.

This still holds true with a number of my friends and colleagues who seem to think “there’s nothing to do in Eau Claire.” While you may think that’s true, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

I play trombone in a number of groups through the university and otherwise, so I was lucky enough to be introduced to the music scene early on. It started with recitals by my peers in Phillips Recital Hall in the Haas Fine Arts Center. My sister played violin with the orchestra, so I saw some of her concerts as well. Every semester I had some concerts of my own, playing in the jazz program, trombone ensemble, Symphony Band and Blugold Marching Band. It wasn’t hard to be involved in some sort of musical experience four or five times a week.

I changed my major from music to journalism a couple years ago, and my participation in ensembles on campus has dwindled to the point where jazz is all I do. With my schedule and major, I no longer see concerts and recitals every week to satisfy my musical appetite. So over the past year, I’ve figured out other ways to see live music around Eau Claire.

Tuesday nights offer a great opportunity to see live music and stand-up comedy at The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St., during their open mic. Late on Wednesday nights, you can see jazz at The Cabin in Davies Center, while off-campus folks can catch a jazz combo playing at Acoustic Cafe, 505 S. Barstow St.

There are too many spots in Eau Claire for a live show on Friday and Saturday to mention all of them, but on campus, The Lookout in Hilltop has live shows nearly every weekend.

The University Activities Committee is constantly finding artists to perform in Davies Center, Zorn Arena and Schofield Auditorium. Close to campus, those who are 21 years old can see anything from rock to hip hop by checking out who’s playing at The Mousetrap, 311 S. Barstow St., The Plus, House of Rock, 422 Water St., Acoustic Cafe or The Fire House Bar, 202 Gibson St.

Art galleries continue to pop up around Eau Claire, with opportunities to see shows on campus at The Foster Gallery – currently featuring art about “Inferno” – in the Haas Fine Arts Center, chances to see work from a new Chippewa Valley artist every couple of months at the Volume One Art Gallery, 205 N. Dewey St. or the Janet Carson Art Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St.

Before this starts to sound like a public service announcement, let me make my point.

The opportunities in this city to embrace the arts is nothing like it was for me in Sheboygan. You could catch a band or two over the summer and see some art from time to time, but it was nothing like the constant ebb and flow of creativity that Eau Claire provides.

Enjoy the artistic culture of this community while you still can, because you may not be in another city like this after you graduate.