LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The Scroll Sculpture on Third Street is known by many as a sort-of welcome into La Crosse.
But it hasn't been maintained.
When the scroll was first dedicated in 1998, it was covered in tablets – those are now being taken down.
It also had a water pump – that no longer works.
"Oh, it's sad," said Patricia Boge. She helped fund the sculpture, a piece of art she says means a lot to her.
"Even if you just kind of notice it out of the corner of your eye, you say, 'Oh yes, it's still here,'" she said.
The sculpture celebrates the creation of letters making words. That's actually part of its formal title, "Scrolled Tablets of Pictographs Celebrate the Creation of Letters Making Words into Written Languages for Human Expressions."
But now parts of it are being taken down.
"The thinking was that the plaques would, in any event, would have to be removed, even if they were to be reinstalled. Because it turns out the attachments – the fasteners that held the plaques to the sculpture – are being catalyzed; essentially disintegrating so the plaques are falling from the sculpture," said Donald Smith, chair of the City of La Crosse Arts Board.
Smith and the rest of board looked at the value of repairing the sculpture or repurposing elements in a different area Monday.
"You're trying to view a thoughtful piece of work with early foreign writing at 40 mph," Smith said.
New locations have been discussed by the board. A favorite is putting it in front of a library. But there's no consensus.
"I do have a fear going down the line that perhaps potential donors for other public art projects will be reluctant to donate," Boge said.
She wants to see the sculpture she funded stand proudly. Its current state, a warning for the next time she donates.
"I think I would ask a lot more questions," Boge said.
Before any decision is made, the arts board will invite the sculpture's donors to their meeting Oct. 7 to discuss the future of the scroll.
Based on that meeting, the board will make a recommendation to the city.
Smith said the arts board may also recommend a policy that when a sculpture is accepted by the city, the city is responsible for the maintenance. Or, a provision is made so there's money for ongoing maintenance.
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