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La Crosse’s arts board gets status report on condition of popular artworks in La Crosse

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About once a year, the city of La Crosse gets a report on what works of public art need repair. The latest maintenance report has been presented to the city arts board.

A three-man inspection crew, including well-known local artist Mike Martino, says most of the artworks or statues owned by the city are in good shape.

Carl Miller and sculptor Mike Martino pose at Walter “Babe” Weigent statue

The items most likely to need work include the abstract “boy and dog” statues at Myrick Park, officially called the Anidonts — the large lacrosse players sculpture on Rose Street — and the statue of Coach Babe Weigent along Cass Street.

The report says the Weigent statue has been vandalized with raw eggs, and should be lighted at night to discourage vandals.

City council member Mark Neumann says it doesn’t reflect well on La Crosse to let statues and murals become run-down.

“What I fear is that when they look dilapidated or, you know, covered over by growth, and neglected,” said Neumann, “that just leaves a really bad impression that our town has lost its vitality.”

Photo credit: Pump House Facebook Page

The art report says some works could be cleaned every year, while others are recommended for new paint jobs perhaps 15 to 20 years from now.

A 2020 report recommended repairs for the Hiawatha statue in Riverside Park, which had stood for about 60 years. Instead of fixing the statue, the city’s parks department voted to remove it and return it to the family of the artist who created it, though citizen also complained that it was a caricature of native Americans.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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