Just around the river bend

We are well past due some updates:

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Too Many Pictures?

This week is easier to describe through pictures . Enjoy!

* Our biggest news for the week is that we met with the Parks and Forest commission and to get permission for installing our project along the Chippewa River State Trail. We found out that we will also have to go before the Waterways Commission as well as City Council in order to get permission. The thought of presenting is a little scary, but also exciting for us.

Here are some more highlights from the week:

Me: “I’m Cat and this is my friend Meg”.
Little kid: “Those are funny names”.

We started off Tuesday at the Nature Academy (formerly the Children’s Center at UWEC).

The artist of this puppy was a gifted illustrator, with an excellent attention to spots.

Wednesday at the farmer’s market, Megan’s car magically transformed into the art mobile!

Meg + Cat

Thanks Jen and Mackenzie (not pictured) for cookies and friendship!

Our first completed drawing, as well as a little preview of what Chippewa Valley Trail users will look like when viewing the project.

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A thousand words

Unfortunately, we have no photographs for this blog entry. The campus library isn’t renting out equipment for the next month. Thus, for most of this week we were operating without a camera. Fortunately, yesterday we were able to meet with a professor who checked out a camera to us. I did take some photos last night, but forgot the camera at home today and can’t upload them. Which is unfortunate, because there was some great pics of Meg being super focused.

A picture speaks a thousand words. That said, prepare yourself for a long blog entry. I think I’ll shoot for 10,000 words to make up for the lack of pictures. Just kidding, I don’t think I have that much to say. But, I will try and give you some mental pictures of what went on this week for River Bend Art Project.

The first picture would be of a mother holding a weeping and distraught four year old. We were able to partner with Dana Reck this past Saturday. Dana Reck is a local art teacher who teaches an art class in the summer for a group of families. She invited us to make flood catchers with the group she normally works with. Unfortunately, we didn’t explain very well to one of the boys that the project we were making wasn’t something he could take home with him. We were finally able to console him by giving him an additional flood catcher that he could take home.

The second picture would be from Sunday night. Picture me stalking out of Meg’s house and taking a walk around the block. Don’t worry, its not as serious as it sounds. Meg and I decided to plan out the rest of our plexiglass drawings Sunday night. It worked out well for the most part. We figured out plans for the first four. We got stuck on the last three. We played around with different ideas for flood narratives, but weren’t happy with what we were coming up with. Our focus was interrupted when some friends came over. It was at that point that I decided I needed a walk to maintain calm. Hence, the picture of me taking a turn around the block. We didn’t end up developing final ideas that night, but I did keep from going crazy.

The third picture could be from Wednesday or Thursday morning, the mornings Meg and I went down to the river bank by Haas to gather sticks. Pretend that you are walking, biking, or running the Chippewa Trail. Suddenly to your left, you hear a noise. You look to see a college-aged girl emerging from the woods, sticks and branches slapping her in the face as she struggles against the undergrowth. She comes out triumphantly, holding a pile of sticks. She waits along the path for a minute until another girl joins her in the same fashion, also holding a pile of sticks under her arm. They casually start walking up the hill towards Haas. Nothing strange or out of the ordinary in that picture.

The fourth picture is a cardboard box. Its full of the tools we have been using this week to etch into plexiglass. Its comprised of screw drivers, nails, screws, and other miscellaneous wood cutting tools that we have scavenged. We were unable to get our hands on a proper etching needle, which is a what is normally used in printmaking for etching plexiglass. Its similar to a pencil, a metal rod with a point at the end that gives a good grip for etching. We have been making do with our odd assemblage of objects, and our drawings are coming along. We are working on finishing the third and fourth.

Next, picture an 89′ Oldsmobile driving around the back neighborhoods of the north side of Eau Claire, searching in vain for Riverview park. On our way to set up a table to make flood catchers at Riverview, we stumble upon Sam Davey Elementary school. There were some middle schoolers playing at the park there, and we asked them if they wanted to make some sculptures for an outdoor art project. A couple of them were interested, and we had a great time making flood catchers with them before receiving the directions “Go by the tennis courts, by the bridge, over the big hill” to get to Riverview park. After a little more searching, we finally found Riverview, and the kids’ descriptions of where it was were surprisingly accurate.

Now picture Meg approaching a group of middle school aged boys at Carson Park. She says a friendly hello and asks them if they want to participate in an art project. The boys stop for a second, then change their trajectory to head away from Meg. They don’t actually respond to her question, but just keep walking. Way to go Meg! She is fearless when it comes to asking kids to make flood catchers. We laughed about it because getting rejected by middle school boys when your in college is way easier than in was in eighth grade.

The next picture is one you can find a link to. Check out our event listing for the day we install at the Volume One website.

Here is the link: http://volumeone.org/sites/kids/events/calendar/2012/9/08

This promotes our big day, September 8th. We are inviting kids that made flood catchers, their families, and all community members to come to the river bend to help us put the flood catchers up in the trees for their month long installation. Look for the listing in the August 23rd printed edition of Volume One in a couple of weeks, and mark your calendars!

Thanks for keeping up with us. Your support for us is wonderful. It encourages us to know that friends care about the work we are doing and our artistic pursuits. It has not been without its challenges. Its hard to keep up with our goals and deadlines, but it means a lot to have people behind us throughout the process.

And I think that is about 1000 words.

Until next week!


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All-Around the River Bend

This week we have been busy with a variety of aspects of our project.  Our focus has been on starting our plexiglass drawings and continuing to make our flood catchers. We have been all-around Haas looking for a variety of tools as well as all-around the great Eau Claire kid zones. We also have been enjoying the tunes as we work this week. We have found some of the London Olympics tv songs on like, “Home” by Phillip Phillips and “Anywhere in the World” by Mark Ronson and Katie B (we like the “Ooohhh” part) . We also watch a great documentary called  The Human Experience.

With our flood catcher project we stopped Boyd Park as well as Carson Park this week. Overall, we have enjoyed how laid back and fun it has been to invite a variety of kids at parks to participate.

We also worked with Miss Lisa’s class at the Eau Claire Children’s Center now known as the Nature Academy.  Tomorrow we will be working with some students from the Eau Claire Montessori School and art teacher, Dana Reck.

This week we have joyfully discovered that our blog now pops up on Google when you type in “River Bend Art Project.” It makes us feel like artstars!

Experimenting and starting our drawing this week has been somewhat slow but a really exciting experience. Both of us are fairly unfamiliar with using plexiglass mediums but the trial and error process is going well so far. Here are a few of the processes we are using so far:

– etching with die grinder tools

– using spray paint plexi frost and contact paper

-transferring computer printed graphics with wintergreen oil

-sandpapering surfaces

-acrylic washes onto etched surfaces

Cat’s experimentation with inks and die grinder tools.

Cat exacto cut on contact paper this map of nations affected by the 2004 Tsunami. She wins the patience gold metal of the week for her patience in transferring this to the plexiglass.

M is for Mailloux and Megan–spray paint frost over contact stencil.

Meg experimenting with wintergreen transfers the messy 102 home.

Thanks for checking in with us this week,


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This week was our first week venturing out into the parks of Eau Claire. On Tuesday night, we went to Tuesday Night Blues at Owen Park.

Our table at Owen Park. Jenna and Meg having fun.

It was a good tryout to see how kids would respond to the project. Our friend Jenna from DeLong Middle School came to help us out. She was a great help. Not only did she help the kids, she also made some great flood catcher illustrations for us. Total, she made about seven. We joked that we could turn her drawings and descriptions into a flood survival guide for kids. These are some favorites.

Wednesday, our day was full of finishing stick sculptures, meeting with  local mural artist Cyndee Kaiser, and taking our sculptures to the Boys and Girls Club. We like to describe our adventure at the Boys and Girls Club as creative chaos. We both made a few mess ups teaching the project, but thats what learning is all about. I forgot to describe what the project was for to one of the groups. Meg got her teacher voice on. “Markers down, caps on” was her favorite phrase. It was a lot of fun. We were privileged to work with a great group of kids.

One thing we are wishing for is a truck. We took quite a few trips in and out to our cars and we transported about a hundred stick sculptures. We are used to the funny looks from strangers.

Here are some favorite flood catchers from the Boys and Girls Club…

Today, we are calling ourselves “doctors” as we repair flood catcher casualties. We are also going to finalize plans for our plexiglass signs. By the end of next week, we should have at least two of them done.

The flood catcher count is at 82, next week we hope to add another 75. Our goal is to be done with the flood catchers by the week of August 13th so we can start putting our plexiglass signs together.

Next week holds more adventures at parks, more scavenging for sticks, more interaction with kids, and of course more mistakes and victories. As Max Planck said when he was awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of quantum theory –

Looking back over the long and labyrinthian path which finally led to the discovery, I am vividly reminded of Goethe’s saying that men will always be making mistakes as long as they are striving after something.”

We are certainly striving, and encouraged to know that even a quantum theorist met with discouragement and failure.

Keep up with River Bend Art Project! Look for our website, Riverbendartproject.com, this coming week. Full documentation of flood catchers will be posted.


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This room is starting to feel like home

Accompanied by the sweet sounds of wooden flutes, (the national IFCA flute convention is happening down the hallway) we have dived into our first week of working full time on the River Bend Art Project.

It has been a great week. Meg and I have enjoyed taking over HFA 102. The scene that greets us every morning (backpacks, computers, water bottles, an empty table, piles of sticks) is full of creative potential.

HFA 102, our workspace, fast on its way to becoming a second home.

It has been wonderful to see progress made. Up to this point, a lot of our work has been in emails, planning, getting permission for things, meeting with our web designer, etc. Meg and I have loved getting our hands dirty with building our stick “flood catcher” orbs. Our days have been spent collecting sticks, cutting wire, and binding sticks together to make rough (very rough) circular shapes.

This week, we were also able to get in touch with the Boys and Girls Club. We are excited go to their art classroom next Wednesday to work with the students there. I’m sure it will be a good test of how kids will actually respond to making these. It will be good to figure our what works and what doesn’t. The opportunity to work with kids is exciting. We are still in the process of trying to figure out how to transport 100+ orbs over there. We are expecting casualties, but can hopefully sustain our losses.

These shelves may look like they are filled with piles of sticks, but they are actually the forms of our “flood catchers”. Our last count was at 91 orbs.

We also got to run some fun errands (which included an ice cream experience at Nelsons Cheese Factory, only $1.50 for a huge scoop of ice cream!). We have been able to check a lot of supplies off our list, which includes markers, glue, scrap plexiglass, parchment paper, and foam brushes.

One of my favorite moments happened yesterday at a large hardware store. Meg and I were on the hunt for work aprons we can wear when we are with kids, to distinguish ourselves as the adults in charge. We were looking for a heavier weight apron that can get sustain a little wear. We always feel a little goofy as two college girls walking into a massive hardware store, but have gotten pretty comfortable with the setting from our experience as sculpture students always in need of random building supplies. We were looking for work aprons, and weren’t seeing any. I asked one of the workers “Where are your aprons?” and he answered “Oh, we don’t sell aprons for washing dishes”. I couldn’t see my face but I’m pretty sure my eyes got really wide. I corrected him, saying no, I’m not looking for an apron so I can wash dishes, but am looking for an apron to work in. We decided to go with aprons from a different store.

We have been feeling a little more official since the development of our logo, which we have been dutifully labeling our supplies with.

We are excited about having a logo. Go River Bend Art Project!

In our obsession with labeling, we can see the influence of our education classes. We are determined to be as efficient as possible and not lose any supplies. Next week, we are going to put the logo on our aprons.

Also on the agenda for next week is setting up times to work with kids at the YMCA and the Children’s Center, and get started on drawings for the plexiglass signs. It will be exciting to see those ideas developed.

Look for us this coming Tuesday night (6:30ish) at Owen Park. We our venturing out for the first time to find kids and families to help use make flood catchers. Would love to see you and have your help making flood catchers. Look for a blonde and brunette in work aprons!



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Week 3

Hello friends!

This week we are once again figuring out who we are going to work with. So far we are hoping that the Boys and Girls Club will be able to coordinate with time to let us work with their students. It is looking like we will be doing a lot of informal work on Tuesday nights and Thursday nights in Owen and Phoenix park. We are kind of adjusting our expectations in terms of teaching “formal” lessons.

Also, Megan met with the enthusiastic Delong Middle School students last weeks. We are excited to invite them to work with us in mid-July. They will help us as assistants in explaining and demonstrating making these orbs. Additionally, we have decided to  now call these orbs…..FLOOD CATCHERS! Thank you Ms. Kathy Bareis for the inspiration. We hope this term will be more kid-friendly as we describe what these orbs are.

This week we also met with Dr. Douglas Faulkner. He is our resident flood enthusiast. He proudly calls himself a flood chaser. Having widely studies Chippewa River flood patterns, he was able to give us some insight into why flooding occurs and how we experience it here in Eau Claire.

Some interesting facts:

-The two primary causes here in Eau Claire are heavy rains and snow melts.

– There is flood measuring station by the footbridge on Grand Ave.

-The biggest flood recorded in Eau Claire was in 1884. This flood was likely a result of deforestation in northern Wisconsin. There were not enough plants and vegetation to absorb the excess water during that time.

-Sometime in the next 500 years lower campus WILL flood!

-Flooding can remove harmful nutrients from the water; it can be a natural cleansing system–floods are natural!

-Lower campus in on an alluvial flood plain; it used to be a real flood plain.

-Because of natural down cutting or eroding of river (cutting deeper) lower campus is no longer a flood plain to yearly floods.

We are parting ways for a couple of weeks–check back in July.

Adios por ahora,

Meg + Cat


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