2015 was the inaugural year for Eaux Claires, a Music and Art Festival put on by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dessner from The National. The mission statement behind the festival is to create a meaningful experience of togetherness and expression. They believe that every artist is equally important and it is just as much about the visual arts as it is about the performances.
The festival takes place, fittingly, in Eau Clair, Wisconsin – which also just happens to be Vernon’s hometown. The inspiration for the festival came after he played a bevy of festivals with Bon Iver after the band’s 2012 Best New Artist Grammy win.
This year, the lineup consists of Vernon’s band Bon Iver and other notable acts such as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, James Blake, and Erykah Badu. Other acts that may not be on your radar are The National’s Grateful Dead tribute Day of the Dead, Alpha Consumer, Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufield, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and DeafHeaven. Dessner will also be playing alongside Lisa Hannigan.
The music may be what draws the crowd to Eaux Claires, but back in March the producers of the festival posted an open call for art proposals and accepted over 27 projects. Some are interactive and call for festivalgoers themselves to participate, like The Musical Fence (think Tom Hanks in Big with the giant piano).
One standout crowd participation piece is Gregory Euclide’s With Our There Being the White Side of Here. Throughout the course of the festival he’ll be drawing on a giant whiteboard and allowing festivalgoers to wipe away selected pieces of the art, touching on the idea that nothing is permanent and highlighting the impact of our lives here on Earth.
Riverpods is a piece that incorporates the Chippewa River, which runs through the grounds of the festival. The artist collective THNDRPPL will use submerged microphones and light to immerse festivalgoers in the aura of the Chippewa River, making it an even more present part of the festival.
There will also be food trucks and pop-ups by some of the most well known breweries, like Chippewa’s own Leinenkugel & Lagunitas. Here at Quip, we are seriously looking forward to submerging ourselves in the little culture that Justin Vernon and Co have created.
This year’s festival takes place August 12-13.