A Look Inside: RCU Sculpture

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 7:58 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - “We went with a U form in the form of a catenary arch which is one of the strongest... it represents strength.”

The steel sculpture outside the new RCU branch office on Barstow Street in downtown Eau Claire serves as a reminder of the 75-year history of the Uniroyal Tire Plant on the city’s north side. A source of civic pride for the sculpture’s designer Dan Ingersoll.

“Folks here at RCU were looking for a sculpture that would commemorate and honor their past as it related to their Uniroyal credit company because they started as a Uniroyal tire company. I said I would take a crack at it and come back with a proposal and they were excited about it,” says Ingersoll.

Ingersoll turned to Greg Johnson and Artisan Forge Metalworks to bring the sculpture design to life. Johnson says countless hours of thought, design and engineering went into the behind the scenes to help the piece of work become reality.

“How do we do this in a timeless manner and how do we do this in outstanding craftsmanship and skill so we can first make it look beautiful, make it look timeless but also make it robust and durable so it can withstand the elements and being in a public face and space,” explains Johnson.

“In the center is the tread pattern that is related to the Uniroyal tires and the circular form.”

Johnson says a really neat piece of this project is the history and the tie-in of the tire plant with RCU and its original members.

“The river, the chevron pattern, and all those little nuances, somebody might not notice unless they stop to engage the piece, that art can bring is some thoughtfulness. It’s not always something pretty sitting someplace, it’s about messaging, and it’s about cooperation, collaboration, community, all of those things,” says Johnson.

“I thought they did a terrific job...”

Royal Credit Union President & CEO Brandon Riechers says Ingersoll and Johnson’s artistic creation represents not only the roots of Uniroyal but a bridge toward the future of Eau Claire’s downtown revitalization.

“Being the gateway to the downtown area, this new downtown location is just a phenomenal location and I think about the sculpture and what it does, I think it’s a great example of how arts can support and partner with economic development,” says Riechers.

The plaque at the base explains the different features of the sculpture. Riechers’ favorite part? The 100 copper circles as the 100 original members that were the foundation of what Royal is today.

“I hope people look at the sculpture as an ongoing visual of RCU being a partner to the community and we know we only thrive when our communities thrive and so we want to continue to be a community partner. Our core purpose is to create a positive impact in the lives we touch and I feel this statue represents what we have done throughout time in partnering with the communities that we serve, certainly starting here in Eau Claire,” adds Riechers.

There is also a Royal Credit Union history exhibit inside the office to display artifacts from Royal’s early days and to share information about how Royal was started.

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