Sculptures at the Library
The library is home to five significant sculptures that reflect a long-established commitment to the area’s cultural life. Read about them here and enjoy them each time you visit the library.
Jack’s Story Time bronze sculpture by Gregory Johnson
Jack’s Story Time was installed at the entrance to Youth Services in October 2013. The bronze sculpture with multi-colored patina depicts a young boy dressed in bib overalls and sitting on an overturned apple basket reading a book. Imaginary story time animals dance in a ring around his feet including Mother Goose, a stately frog, the famous turtle and hare and one of the three little pigs. Hidden in the setting are a butterfly and a caterpillar. The circular base features life-like ground cover and a tree stump.
Created by sculptor Gregory Johnson of Cumming, Georgia as a testimony to our imagination as children, it was one of 31 sculptures on display throughout downtown in 2012-2013 as part of the second Sculpture Tour Eau Claire. Acquisition of the sculpture by the library was made possible through generous donations raised in the community to keep the sculpture in Eau Claire to inspire young readers.
Circle of Friends bronze sculpture by Karen Crain.
Circle of Friends was installed at the corner of Dewey and Eau Claire Streets in July, 2012. It is described by sculptor Karen Crain of Littleton, Colorado, as a tribute to her family and all the books her children enjoyed while growing up. The titles on the band around the piece echo how books encompass our lives and become a valuable part of who we are. The titles on the band include: “Anne of Green Gables,” “The BFG [Big Friendly Giant],” “The Borrowers,” “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM,” “The Secret Garden” and “Wrinkle in Time.” At the base of the piece, on a smaller scale, is a scene of a girl paddling a canoe with dolphins jumping about, inspired by “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” The other side has a vine-covered stone wall with a door that leads to "Secret Garden."
The sculpture was one of 27 sculptures on display throughout downtown in 2011-12 as part of the first Sculpture Tour Eau Claire. Acquisition of the sculpture by the library was made possible through the efforts of library board member Susan Bruce, who raised generous donations from individuals in the community to keep the sculpture here in Eau Claire to motivate young readers.
Untitled steel sculpture by Michael Christopherson
An untitled sculpture by Michael Christopherson of Eau Claire has been a fixture outside the main entrance of the library since the late summer of 1982. The library commissioned the 12-foot high by 15-foot wide steel sculpture in February 1980. The project’s $12,000 cost was paid by private donations and a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Christopherson fabricated the sculpture himself at his Eau Claire metalworking machine shop. It is believed to be the first piece of public outdoor sculpture in downtown Eau Claire. When designing the sculpture, Christopherson said he kept in mind that libraries deal primarily with the written word. “I think the piece itself is one that you read from left to right, like reading a book,” he said. He describes the sculpture as “a juxtaposition of reading, geometry, forms in nature and humor.”
Untitled wood sculpture by Michael Christopherson.
The wood sculpture located at the rear of the first floor main stairwell was created in 1973 by Michael Christopherson. The sculpture is made of pine. It was on display in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia before being purchased by the library.
Christopherson graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a bachelor of fine arts degree in sculpture in 1971. He received his master of fine arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1973, and for a time taught art at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. He later returned to Eau Claire to manage a machine shop, joining the UW-Eau Claire art & design faculty in 1987.
Christopherson was the 2007-08 recipient of the Maxwell Schoenfeld Distinguished Professorship at UW-Eau Claire. He retired from the university a professor emeritus in art & design in 2008.
Male figure wood sculpture by George Hagale.The sculpture of a male figure that resides near the elevator on the second floor is the work of longtime University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire art professor George Hagale.
Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1928, Hagale received a bachelor’s degree in art from Southwest Missouri State in 1950 and a master of fine arts degree from Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After serving in the Korean War, he taught at UW-Eau Claire for many years as a full professor of art. An accomplished sculptor in bronze, clay, plaster and stone, his work has been exhibited at numerous shows throughout the United States.
In his later years, he preferred sculpting the human form in wood. The late Professor Hagale was best known in Eau Claire for designing and building altars and furnishings in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of his most cherished accomplishments were the countless altars, crucifixes and chalices he made for many churches in the area, most notably the campus Ecumenical Religious Center.
The sculpture of the male figure was one of the first works of art acquired for this building by the library’s Art Committee and has been on display in the library for more than 30 years.