City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

La Crosse to consider where to put Hatched Baby sculpture

"Hatched Baby" was created by Wolfgang Auer, an artist from La Crosse's German sister city of Friedberg.

The city of La Crosse is now the maybe-proud foster parent of a 9-foot-tall baby.

A bouncing baby of indeterminate gender has arrived in La Crosse, no doubt to the joy of its creator Wolfgang Auer of Friedberg, Germany. Auer’s “Hatched Baby,” part of his Blue Baby series, features a giant fiberglass and resin baby painted blue sitting in a white egg shell with just its head poking out. The baby has a vacant expression on its face as it stares open-mouthed into the distance, making its full set of perfect teeth and all-too-human grey eyes unavoidable.

The baby made its way to our fair city from the Fitton Art Center in Hamilton, Ohio, where it was greeted by an amused public, according to WCPO, a Cincinnati TV station.

The La Crosse Board of Park Commissioners chatted about the statue Thursday after the city’s Art Board asked whether the city would consider putting it in a public park, among several other possible locations.

Parks director Steve Carlyon said the board didn’t take any action, but the city will have to find a place for this gift from its German sister-city.

“The baby is in La Crosse, so we’ve got to figure out where to put this baby to bed at,” Carlyon said.

Don’t worry though. People will have the chance to weigh in on whether they want it next door, at least when it comes to the possibility of it being on public property.

“We’re not just going to throw something controversial in the park without talking to the neighbors,” Carlyon said.

While I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it controversial, the baby has been causing a stir since the photo hit the park board agenda (and subsequently my inbox) earlier this week.

“That is terrifying,” were the first words out of my mouth when I opened up the photo to see the nearly lifelike baby poking its head out of its shell. And then I laughed and shared it with everyone around me, because how can you not when faced with something like that?

“You start looking at it too long, and you start fixating on the impossible teeth. All of a sudden it’s not human,” Tribune city editor Marc Wehrs said.

Personally, I find the eyes the most disturbing. They’re too lifelike in a statue that isn’t quite lifelike enough otherwise, putting the sculpture firmly into the uncanny valley (the uncanny valley is when a human replica is almost, but not quite, real and creeps people out).

We threw it up on our website, figuring if we got a kick out of it, our readers would, too. And we were right. Our readers gave us some great suggestions for what to do with “Hatched Baby,” from dropping it in the Mississippi River where its face would pop out when the water’s low to spreading the kindness of the gift to our neighbors in Onalaska. (Regifting is only tacky if you make it tacky, guys!) My brother’s girlfriend suggested it looked like the child of a member of the Blue Man Group who was horrified to learn who his father was. Another friend suggested it brought to mind Violet Beauregard post-gum-chewing.

My personal favorite suggested site was outside area high schools to discourage teen pregnancy. Nothing like a giant, horrified baby staring at you to remind you of the importance of safe sex.

La Crosse is no stranger to statue controversies, though this one is probably better than the ongoing discussion about the “Hiawatha” statue, also known as the Big Indian, in Riverside Park. While the Big Indian is known for being racially insensitive and offensive to Native American groups, at least the Hatched Baby is just being called ugly — or, as arts board chair Doug Weidenbach said, “It’s more of an aesthetic controversy.”

Weidenbach makes the good point that the baby does forward the mission of the arts committee.

“What we want to do is start conversations about art pieces,” he said. “Why not introduce this and have some of that public discussion?”

While the baby is nontraditional for the area — most of La Crosse’s public art features homages to our history — it does make for an interesting public discussion. Not all art has to be attractive and modern art does have its place in society. Mostly, I want to know if the baby’s head poking out of its shell is a metaphor for a child becoming less shy or whether it’s a birth thing. I’m hoping it’s not a birth thing, because then the color choice gets really insensitive.

I have to say, the more I talk about it, the more I become attached to it, the poor deformed thing. Do you think my landlord would let me put it up outside my building?

Photos: National Register of Historic Places in La Crosse County

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(7) comments


Okay, this is the second article about this terrible piece of "art." The first article was about a public meeting that was held on September 22 to discuss where it should be installed. Well, apparently once news of this blue beast got out, there was an uproar of people saying get rid of it. However, it seems those opinions haven't gone to publication and now the Tribune has released its own "opinion" article written by this Jourdan Vian, who begins with stating that it is indeed ugly, creepy, possibly in poor taste due to the fact that blue babies are usually dead babies, as well as multiple other reasons as to why this sculpture should just get a hard pass and moved out of town. And yet, she ends the article by stating that the more she talks about the sculpture, the more attached she becomes to it. So, does that make it art? That is some stupid, backward, and just all around terrible logic for coming to the conclusion of what is art. Perhaps I will start pooping on sidewalks and when others protest that it's a terrible act and not fit for public, I will simply claim "I'm making art. Let's talk about it as a community."


Perfect spot for this egg/child is in the middle of the round about on 7th and Cass. It might actually make people yield the right away as they will slow down to take a look at it.

Rick Czeczok

Please do not put this in the city of Lacrosse. We will be a laughing stock of the state,


There a very fine business in the industrial park that might pay the city a few dollars for this piece of craap , Alter's Recycling. This is one of the most disgusting so called works of art ever made and a waste of materials, but it can be recycled .

Buggs Raplin

Or put it in front of the Tribune building

Buggs Raplin

Forgive the deviation, but this column is not attracting any comments. As I type this at 10 am, the Tribune has removed its north/south corridor story from the 'trending now' section. The insane clown group is the number one trend. Wasn't that concert supposed to be last night? In any case, it's just another example of the dishonesty of the Tribune.


I have to agree with Buggs on this columnist. Vian's writing depth is very shallow and uninteresting. The Tribune keeps raising subscription rates and delivering less. As a 30-year subscriber, I'm done as of my latest billing cycle. A 14% rate increase and their carrier can't even deliver it to my doorstep any longer or even throw it in my driveway on time.

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