WHEW! It's been awhile since I did this column, and there is so much to say.

This week, what I wish to emphasize in this space is one of the ways CAB and our representative artists help keep our city beautiful.

As most of you have noticed, the "utility boxes," those LARGE, dull, mysterious structures that look like small rooms with no apparent use (except to cause us not to use the rest of the landscape as we might wish) are being replaced with delightful and amusing works of art, usually in a sort of 3-dimensional way.

That is because CAB, Community Arts BASE, decided several years ago that those boxes were space for ART - yes, with capital letters; that our organization could turn those boring boxes into ART! You've probably noticed rectangular, multi-dimensional paintings on corners where there was nothing but drab and angles.

Several local artists (CAB artists!) have decorated those monstrosities (they are necessary for our delightful community to function) so that, instead of eyesores, they have become aesthetically vital. Now, not only do we have corners downtown with flowers that bloom in the summer planted and tended by talented community volunteers during the growing season. We have corner art!

Let's look at just one of our "Utility Box Artists": Leslie Batt Lutz. Leslie has done more of the boxes than any other single artist - each more reflective of the city we live in and love than the last. I think we all remember Leslie's first one on Main Street near the Coffee House (long may it endure!) "Clyde the Dog" was an early "town mascot."

The second near Kwik Trip is a Monarch butterfly, an annual visitor to our area who migrates thousands of miles every year. And then "Living the Dream," a triple portrait of local players who have moved on to professional status. What about the "You ARE HERE" double box reminder that, in Leslie's words, "we must care for the planet that is our home."

Leslie has completed two this year: "How Sweet It Is" (near City Hall) featuring bees and reminding us how important their nectar is to our well being and of our duty to make sure they endure by not denying them the clover and dandelions they need to survive. And the one she just finished about a week ago near the School Bus Garage "Spring Has Sprung," a depiction of the Wisconsin robin nestled in early spring apple blossoms. She hopes this one will be a "cheery greeting" for the school bus drivers (and, one imagines, set them up for a day of robin cheer as they greet our kids on the way to school).

Barn dances

Things have changed, but the fun and frolic of the CAB Barn Dances continues at a new location: Meyer Middle School gym. The bands and callers will be familiar and, we hope, while many dancers will be our familiar friends, new ones will try the new location.

Changes in Barn Dance plans: It's time to announce some real changes in our CAB Barn Dance Season for 2019-2010. Now that we have bands who will come and play for us every year, we have representatives from those bands serving on our planning committee. And just in the nick of time. As you may have noticed, large portions of the River Falls Academy are disappearing. Something will replace it, but for the 2019-2020 season at least, we will have a new venue on the east side of town. That's not so bad - In fact, it's pretty good. We will be able to use the parking lot and we will have a more convenient venue.

Now, the other change in plans: Instead of six dances for 2019-20, we will have four. We've always had enough eager dancers to create a good time; we have great bands and callers that make sure we are amused as well as learning new barn dances and continuing to dance our favorites. However, we need to generate enough revenue each dance to pay the band.

We hope that with fewer dances, scarcity will draw greater crowds with each dance. Our favorite bands will be with us:

• Nov. 16 Greenwood Tree

• Jan. 18 Rush River Ramblers

• Feb. 15 Barn Cats

• March 21 Woolly Buggers

Although our callers are not settled, we know they will be fine and familiar.