La Crosse Arts Community Unveils New Downtown Mural

'Confluence' Aims To Inspire More People To Embrace The Arts

Above, the mural "Confluence in downtown La Crosse. Photo: Maureen McCollum/WPR News.

The La Crosse arts community hopes that a new, highly anticipated mural called “Confluence,” that was unveiled downtown over the weekend will inspire more people to create and enjoy the arts.

As the curtain dropped from the side of a local theater, the faces of ordinary La Crosse residents were unveiled: the college-aged artist, the group of Hmong women, the Ho-Chunk elder, and the German frau serving steins of beer.

Their faces are among the elements that have shaped La Crosse, like the trees and the riverboats. Glaciers appear to jettison out from the side of the building, surrounding the mural.

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Renowned artist John Pugh created the mural in the trompe l’oeil style, which means “fool the eye” because of its 3D effect.

Community apprentice Robert Mini is one of the local artists that worked on the project. He said he hopes it inspires people and opens the door to more public art throughout the city.

“I would love for people to come out of the woodwork like ants,” said Mini. “The talent here – there’s more talent than there are water molecules in that river, so if we can get everybody out here, we can cover this city with beautiful things.”

Mini said the mural is a starting point in making La Crosse an arts destination.

City of La Crosse Arts Board chair Don Smith says the mural will draw tourists and local residents to the blossoming arts district.

“One of the things that you’ll do when you have company is go, ‘You’ve got to see this! You’ve got to come down and look at this mural,’” he said.

The final touches of the mural still have to be made and should be completed in about a week. The mural was funded by the city, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and private donations.