ALTOONA — Folks taking in the expanding outdoor music options at River Prairie Park this summer will get an artistic greeting as they take their spots in the amphitheater nestled next to the Eau Claire River.
A new sign marking the Prevea Amphitheater was unveiled Tuesday. The sign, which stands 7 feet, 6 inches tall, is made of oak, cedar, stainless steel and corten steel — all elements widely used in the park. The corten steel is designed to rust and create a protective barrier.
“The whole goal was to create a piece that was functional and also added a bit of beauty to the park,” said artist Dean Glenzer, owner of D. Allen Signatures in Eau Claire. “The design just made sense with how the materials meshed with the park.”
Glenzer, who was commissioned to create the sign as an entry point to the amphitheater, noted that the sign also features a bench inspired by old railroad ties as a nod to Altoona’s railroad history.
“A lot of my pieces are an expression of nature,” said Glenzer, 26, who also has a tree sculpture on display as part of the 2019 Sculpture Tour Eau Claire. “I try to mimic nature and use a lot of reclaimed materials.”
Altoona city Administrator Mike Golat said he believes the sign turned out beautifully.
“It really matches the pallet of the park,” he said.
The sign made its debut just in time for the kickoff of a duo of free outdoor concert series at the amphitheater, including the second year of Altoona’s Rock’n on the River at 6:30 on Wednesday nights and the launch of Kickin’ it Country at 6:30 on Monday nights.
A new addition to the Wednesday concerts, which attracted an average of 1,500 to 2,000 people last year, will be a 5:30 p.m. fusion series of local acts on the park’s Four Seasons stage. The classic rock shows resume tonight, and the country music series is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 1.
Mayor Brendan Pratt pointed out that the Monday concerts are accompanied by food trucks and a farmers market and the Wednesday performances also include an art fair and food trucks.
Prevea Health was delighted to sponsor the amphitheater because it promotes people getting out in nature and being active — the kinds of activities that are just as much a part of a healthy lifestyle as regular doctor visits, said Dr. Ken Johnson, chief medical officer for Prevea in western Wisconsin.