After months of labor, “Hatched Baby” is nearly ready for visitors after a city committee Friday approved its placement in the southeastern lawn of La Crosse City Hall.
“We have finally, so-to-speak, put the baby to bed,” said La Crosse Arts Board chairman Doug Weidenbach.
The rest of the board applauded decision on where to place the fiberglass sculpture — created by Friedberg, Germany, artist Wolfgang Auer. The board has been considering the question since September.
La Crosse’s Common Council might be asked to vote later this year on whether the controversial Hiawatha statue will remain in Riverside Park.
The 9-foot-tall sculpture of a blue baby sitting in a white eggshell — now in a Myrick Park shelter — will be moved sometime before mid-March, when the city’s parks department needs to get the shelter ready for spring.
There are some administrative tasks to complete before it’s moved, such as making sure it’s properly insured and arranging transportation, but Mayor Tim Kabat confirmed Friday that his office is working with the parks department to get the sculpture placed.
“The Blue Baby is coming,” said Kabat.
After the arts board’s self-imposed March deadline last month, the mayor spoke with the board about the possibility of placing the sculpture at City Hall as a way of honoring the artist, who is from La Crosse’s German sister city of Friedberg. It will be displayed in the green space off Sixth Street, near the butterfly garden installed last year.
“People can see it, which is the point of art after all,” Weidenbach said.
Arts board member Jennifer Terpstra suggested the board hold a reception to let the public see the baby once it’s in place.
While Weidenbach acknowledged that some people consider it controversial, he was pleased to see it sparked a public conversation about art and what it means.
“That is part and parcel what it means to create art,” Weidenbach said.
Board members and city staff are looking into the possibility of some sort of plaque explaining where “Hatched Baby” came from and Auer’s intentions in creating it.
“It’s a win-win for everybody, whether you like it or not,” Weidenbach added.
Council member Roger Christians, who is on the arts board, suggested the city send photos and a letter of thanks to the artist after the piece is in place.
“If we had not put this somewhere, it would have been a shame,” Christians said.
The sculpture is on temporary loan and will eventually be returned to Friedberg.