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Mayor Reynolds says 'Hatched Baby' sculpture will need repairs after theft

From the COLLECTION: Damaged beyond repair, no suspects series
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A sculpture outside La Crosse City Hall will need repairs before it’s once again displayed after part of it was stolen over the weekend, Mayor Mitch Reynolds said in a statement Wednesday.

The face of a blue baby head that was part of the “Hatched Baby” sculpture was found missing early Sunday morning. Police have since located the face, but there are currently no suspects.

Mitch Reynolds

La Crosse mayor, Mitch Reynolds

According to a police report, the head of the baby had to be detached from straps that secured it to its base, a cracked egg shell. The head was taken apart, and only the face of it was taken, and the back of it left behind with the rest of the sculpture.

“’Hatched Baby’ has been damaged to the point where further display will not be possible until the sculpture has been suitably repaired,” Reynolds said.

Photos that emerged online of the face in someone’s home after the theft appear to show scuffs on the artwork.

Hatched Baby has been in the city since 2018, created by artist Wolfgang Auer, who is from La Crosse’s sister city of Friedberg, Germany. Reynolds said in his statement Wednesday that the artist had been notified of the damage to the artwork.

'Hatched Baby' snatched

This screenshot shows a photo posted to Instagram Sunday night by Barstool Sports of La Crosse, that seems to show the head of the "Hatched Baby" sculpture in someone's home. The head went missing from outside of city hall over the weekend.

“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.”

The sculpture, often known by the community as the “Blue Baby,” has sparked conversation over the years, and Auer has stated that the artwork was inspired by the birth of his daughter, and in-part represents the anxieties that come with parenthood.

Wolfgang Auer

Wolfgang Auer of Friedberg Germany, one of La Crosse's sister cities, sketches a bull and rider on a piece of ash wood in 2014 while making a wood carving on Isle La Plume, during a visit for Oktoberfest.

“’Hatched Baby’ may not have been the favorite of everyone in our community, but neither is any art meant for the public square,” Reynolds said in his statement. “As others have said in the past, art in some ways is meant to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Art is also meant to provoke thought and wonder and coerce our imagination into growth.”

Reynolds said police continue to search for those responsible for the damage to the sculpture, saying he hoped to have more updates on the sculpture’s condition “very soon.”

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