Exhibit Features Objects From State Theatre’s History

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Memories take wing.
Memories take wing.

Even among those eagerly awaiting the opening of the Pablo Center at the Confluence later this year, the impending closure of the State Theatre (a.k.a. the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center) is tinged with a certain wistfulness. As of September, the curtain will have dropped – literally and figuratively – for good on the State Theatre. That will also mean the end for the Janet Carson Gallery, which is part of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center. As an (almost) final bow, the gallery is now offering a stroll through the theater’s history in an exhibit titled “Center Stage: The Art of Theatre.” Curated by longtime local artists Mel and Sally Sundby, the exhibit features artifacts gathered from a host of groups that have used the 92-year-old theater since it was reborn in 1986 as the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center. They include items from the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, the Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra, and the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra, as well as the theater itself. There are ornate costumes, historic photos, an array of posters, pieces of the theater’s molding, a template used by artist Gene Leisz to paint the lobby, and even a 1984 architectural drawing that includes elements that were never added to the arts center. (See if you can figure out what they are!) “It’s a moment to teach people, as well as a memory of where this was and where it’s going,” Sally Sundby said of the exhibit’s timing. In the words of the legendary showtune from Cats (whose poster is included in the exhibit), it’s time to “let the memory live again.” 

Center Stage: The Art of Theatre • through Friday, July 6 • 9am-4:30pm Monday-Friday (and until 7pm Thursdays) • Janet Carson Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St. • FREE • (715) 832-ARTS • www.eauclairearts.com

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