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Scroll sculpture heads to UW-La Crosse for repurposing
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Scroll sculpture heads to UW-La Crosse for repurposing


The Scroll sculpture was previously located along Third Street at the north edge of downtown La Crosse.

The remnants of The Scroll may be rewritten into new art after a Friday decision by the La Crosse Arts Board.

The Scroll — which sat just north of the La Crosse Tribune along Third Street from 1997 to 2013 — was removed and put into storage after the bronze tablets on the sculpture started to become loose and fall off. In its heyday, “The Scroll,” which was created by La Crosse artist Dale Kendrick, was lit and had water cascading down its face; however, the fountain portion of the work broke down two years before it was removed.

Donald Smith was chair of the Arts Board in 2013, when the board was forced to address problems with the sculpture.

“We didn’t fund repairs, but we kept the scroll elements with the notion they’ll be reused,” Smith said.

A life remembered: Dale Kendrick

The board did a study, reaching out to the family of Kendrick — who died in 2003 — and other community members, eventually deciding finding a way to reuse elements of the work would be best; however, it remained in storage.

“The notion was to take it down but not to lose the work,” Smith said.

The work — titled “Scrolled Tablets of Pictographs Celebrate the Creation of Letters Making Words in Written Languages for Human Expressions” — celebrated early language through the times, he said.

“We thought frankly saving these elements for use at a future time would be very consistent with his work,” Smith said.

The current arts board voted unanimously Friday to transfer the pieces to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, putting it in the hands of associate professor John Ready, who teaches sculpture, and his students.

“I think the reconstruction of the fountain is not plausible — at this point cost-prohibitive — probably just because of the status of The Scroll itself,” said Arts Board chair Doug Weidenbach.

The deterioration of the materials would make it difficult, leaving the artists with the options of either melting it down to repurposing the bronze tablets featuring different languages in some other way.

“We might be talking about both, depending on the condition of them. There might be some panels and plaques in better condition in order to repurpose. Without seeing them, it’s hard to know,” said vice chair Jennifer Terpstra, who is also a professor at UW-L.

The board intends Ready and his students to find ways to repurpose and display the parts of the sculpture.

“If you knew Doc Kendrick, he did that all the time,” said Weidenbach, who did know the artist. “I think he would be totally behind this, especially as it goes to UW-L, where he taught for so many years.”

Kendrick was taught art at the university for 30 years before his retirement in 1990.

Sending his art the way of UW-L was a natural direction, Terpstra added, saying that she was glad to see a new generation of artists take on the project.

“For the students to inherit something that was part of an existing piece of art is a really interesting challenge,” she said, adding that sculptors and artists often work with found materials.

“Mr. Kendrick really left a mark on the art community in La Crosse. To see his art move on matters to people,” Terpstra added.

Jourdan Vian can be reached at or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.


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