Downtown art project planned
By Angie Landsverk
An approximately 30-feet high temporary wooden structure called “Wautopia” will be assembled in downtown Waupaca this summer.
A crew of people who work in construction will do this Saturday, Aug. 11, on Session Street.
Wautopia will be made up of 18 pods, and teams will be needed to build them.
“The core concept of Wautopia is the beauty of our interconnectedness. Through relationships, we can build a stronger community. This is Wautopia,” said Marci Reynolds, president of the Waupaca Community Arts Board (WCAB).
The structure will be this year’s community arts project and serve as the centerpiece during “ARTicipation Week,” which leads up to Arts on the Square.
WCAB sponsors Arts on the Square, and the 12th annual arts festival will take place Saturday, Aug. 18.
Due to reconstruction of parking around city hall this summer, the event will be held “off the square.”
It will be on part of Session Street, on North Main Street and in Rotary Riverview Park.
Reynolds presented information about the community arts project during the March 20 common council meeting.
WCAB requested closure of Session Street, from the alley to Main Street, from Aug. 11-19 and permission to place the structure there.
The council approved both requests.
Wautopia is to represent the ideals of living in Waupaca.
From April 1-30, people may email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up to build one of the pods.
Depending on the number interested, individuals and groups may have to pair up, Reynolds said.
There are two different pod sizes.
The cost of a large pod (8 by 4 by 4 feet) is $175, and the cost of a small pod (4 by 4 by 4 feet) is $130.
Fees, payable to WCAB, will be due upon delivery of the kits.
The fee covers all the materials. This is not a WCAB fundraiser.
The kits will include the wood, hardware, paint and step-by-step instructions needed to put together the pods.
Construction mentors will be assigned for those who run into questions or need help.
One facade per pod will be open for teams to show their creativity.
Business or organization logos will not be allowed, as the pods are not for advertising, Reynolds said.
She said they may include items showing examples of what they do or are about, but will have to compromise and expand their thinking if their team includes people from other organizations.
“It’s a community art project. We’re all doing it together,” Reynolds said. “What we’re going to get out of it is that we’ll get to know each other.”
She told the council the arts board is aware Waupaca is not a utopia.
Drug abuse and poverty exist in the community, Reynolds said.
WCAB sees the project as a way to build relationships and work toward improving the community’s health.
Completed pods will be returned by July 9.
Questions during the March 20 council meeting centered on safety.
Reynolds said they want the pods returned a month prior to the event so professionals may inspect the pods before putting the structure together.
Andrew Whitman, the city’s interim parks and recreation director and a member of Waupaca’s fire department, was asked whether the structure will meet fire codes.
He said the open air structure does not fall under the fire code.
Once Wautopia is up, no one will be allowed to climb on it, Reynolds said.
“It’s not going to be left unmanned between us doing activities there and night-time security,” she said.
WCAB is hiring security for the evening hours, and Steve Laedtke noted the board has a $1 million liability insurance policy.
The structure will be taken apart Sunday, Aug. 19, with pods going home with members of the teams that built them.
Reynolds said WCAB wants to host a community brunch that day for those involved in the project.
“Good luck. Keep us informed,” Mayor Brian Smith said of Wautopia.
Reynolds replied, “We want you (the city) to make one (a pod).”
Trip to Ireland
A castle created out of cardboard and packing tape became the inspiration for this year’s community art project.
Marci Reynolds, Fran Rademacher and Steve and Barb Laedtke went to Ireland last July to attend the annual Galway International Arts Festival.
The festival is known for doing “spectacles,” said Reynolds.
WCAB sponsors Arts on the Square and other artistic events in the community.
Arts on the Square takes place in downtown Waupaca on an August weekend and includes a street dance, juried artists, music, a community art project and workshops.
The festival in Galway, Ireland includes theatre, dance, music, opera, street spectacles, visual arts, discussion and comedy.
Last year, more than 200 events took place in 33 venues over the course of 14 days, with over 210,000 people attending it.
“They did a community art project. They built a castle out of cardboard and packing tape,” Reynolds said. “It was four stories tall. They built it and then they tore it down. It was on the town square.”
Visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXm31qLDgTQ&feature=youtu.be to watch the castle being built.
Reynolds said they returned to Waupaca “wanting to do something big.”
Their past community art projects have included murals, as well as the sculpture in South Park that involved etched clay tiles, a portable foundry and Waupaca Foundry.
The arts board soon found just the person to help them come up with an idea for this year’s project.
It was Susan Reniewicki.
Reynolds explained how that happened.
Last Halloween, Reniewicki recreated “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” in her front yard.
Reynolds was among those invited to see it.
“I saw the castle, and it was a sign,” Reynolds said.
Arts board members asked Reniewicki to be an artist in residence and present an idea.
She came up with a design and after four mutations, the board had a scale model for what is being called “Wautopia.”
The temporary wooden structure will be made up of 18 pods and be about 30 feet high once assembled.
“Steve Laedtke made it architecturally sound,” Reynolds said.
He has a background in architecture and construction and went to Torborg’s Lumber to price the cost of the lumber needed to build Wautopia.
The scale model Reniewicki created will be on display at city hall, along with informational sheets about how to sign up to create one of the pods.
The idea is for the pods made of wooden elements to represent the ideals of the community, Reynolds said.