La Crosse Mayor: ‘Hatched Baby’ damaged, in need of repairs
LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The theft of the “Hatched Baby” sculpture‘s face left it damaged enough that it won’t be able to be further displayed until it’s repaired, said La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds Wednesday.
Reynolds said in a press release that officers continue to search for the vandals who stole the face off of the blue sculpture that has sat outside La Crosse City Hall since 2018, and he hopes to have information about the possibility of repairs soon
“This act of vandalism and disregard has forced me to inform a gifted artist that there are people in our community who thought so little of his generosity that they sought to destroy his art,” Reynolds said.
The “Hatched Baby” was created by artist Wolfgang Auer of La Crosse’s Sister City of Friedberg, Germany. Auer, who also created the fiberglass compass in the International Friendship Garden in Riverside Park, was inspired by the birth of his daughter.
The face of the sculpture was removed overnight on Saturday or early Sunday and located safely in the front lawn of a house on King Street Monday morning.
A La Crosse police officer noted that the 9-foot-tall sculpture was missing its face at 7:17 a.m. Sunday. The straps meant to secure the Hatched Baby were no longer securing it and the back of the head was sitting inside the eggshell. After stowing the back in a safe place, the officer investigated the theft.
A photo of the head was posted to Barstool Sports La Crosse’s Instagram account Sunday, but it was removed Monday morning.
The city of La Crosse Arts Board condemned the vandalism Tuesday in a statement that also urged the perpetrator to come forward.
“Regardless of one’s opinion of a work of art, theft and vandalism are unacceptable,” said the board in a statement. “When art exists in the public sphere, it is subject to scrutiny, risk and sometimes outrage, and our community can support enthusiastic debate on this topic. Additionally, works of art do not solely need to elicit feelings of joy. Art can evoke sadness, anger, thoughtfulness, and a myriad of other feelings.”
The board, which supported the removal of another controversial piece of art — the Hiawatha formerly placed in Riverside Park — said the planned removal of public art is another matter entirely from theft and vandalism.
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