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Art Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center

About the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center

The State Theatre provides a home base for many Eau Claire area art, theatre, music, and dance organizations.

Discover our Chippewa Valley arts center.

Still have questions?

Get in touch with us by calling 715-832-ARTS or send us an email.

"The 1608" by Bon Iver & Gordy Bischoff made from Bushmills Whiskey Barrels

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

"Justin Vernon of Bon Iver called me and asked, 'Hey Gordy, can a guitar be built from a whiskey barrel?' My answer was, yes. This is that guitar. Enjoy."

- Gordy Bischoff, Luthier

 The 1608



Guitar to be Auctioned to Benefit the Confluence Community Arts Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

New York, NY (October 22, 2012) - Justin Vernon, the Grammy-award winning singersongwriter and frontman of Bon Iver, has teamed up with longtime friend and Master Luthier Gordy

Bischoff ( to develop "The 1608" - a baritone guitar made with original white oak wood from Bushmills Irish Whiskey barrels. "The 1608" is Bon Iver's collaborative release with Bushmills for "Since Way Back": a program dedicated to celebrating groups of friends whose shared experiences and influences are now shaping pop culture, including the music they write, the art they create, and the businesses they begin. "Since Way Back" gives these groups the opportunity to develop unique pieces that reflect each of their passions.



From Monday, October 22 to Friday, November 2, "The 1608" will be available to take home via an online auction to benefit The Confluence Community Arts Center: a community arts center in support of Vernon's hometown community of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "The goal is to put art back on the map in Eau Claire," said Vernon. "Far too many artists from this area have had to leave because what we want to do with our lives just isn't possible here. That's what the Confluence Project is: to build a center that can be a nucleus for art here in Eau Claire."

One Guitar to be Auctioned to Benefit The Confluence Community Arts Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  The baritone guitar is available to auction off through Ebay at

Vernon joined "Since Way Back" in 2011 with brother Nate and close friends Kyle Frenette and Brian Joseph, all of whom form the backbone of Bon Iver as Co-Managers and Audio Engineer, and whose relationships define the "Since Way Back" story of supporting family and friendship. The guitar was revealed last night at a private event for friends and family of the band in Wisconsin. Eau Claire is home to one of the strongest and most diverse music scenes in the country, and Vernon utilizes his international notoriety to bring awareness and support to his Wisconsin community. From the initial idea to conception, everything ties back to his hometown. The importance of supporting a community is parallel to the history of Bushmills: an authentic Irish whiskey from the original Irish distillery that as a brand has a held belief in the power of timeless friendship and brotherhood, since its inception. Bushmills is a small town in Ireland where nearly everyone works, or knows someone who works at the distillery.

"I was really happy to have this opportunity to work with Gordy on this collaboration," said Vernon. "He's an example of someone who's stayed in Eau Claire and built an artisan career from the ground up. His guitars are not only world class, but from our area. I've known him for many years- he's built a lot of guitars for us, It's been a lot of fun to see what he came up with."

Bischoff, a Master Luthier for 37 years, utilized a combination of his woodworking skills with moisture and heat to mold and soften the fibers to bend the wood into place, and develop the shape needed to create a guitar. This baritone guitar is made almost entirely out of the white oak wood from the whiskey barrels, with only a touch of additional wood added to the internal structure. The nine-pound guitar features two separate pickup systems, an acoustic transducer and two passive electric pickups, and features a neck made from hard rock maple and Ebony. The finishing touches tie the entire collaboration together, featuring Bushmills bottle caps as the volume and tone control knobs, with a bit of Bushmills Irish Whiskey added to the guitar humidor in the case to enhance the aroma of the iconic brand.

"I first met Justin when he was in one of his early bands, Mt. Vernon," said Bischoff. "After coming in for various setups and adjustments, he eventually ordered his first custom acoustic guitar from me -that guitar went on to be featured by Bon Iver in their Gammy-nominated song of the year,Holocene. I knew I was in for a test when I got a call from Justin and he said he had two questions for me: One, could I build a guitar from a whiskey barrel and two, was I interested. It was a 'yes' for both."

"Since Way Back" is inspired by the heritage of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and its longstanding tradition of recognizing enduring kinship. The initiative celebrates the lives and relationships of artists and influencers across the world, and collaborates with each to produce creative, inspired content that reflects each of his passions.

Bushmills reminds friends to drink responsibly. Make sure to drink in moderation and get home safely: designate a driver or take a taxi.

Keep Up with Bushmills at:

About The Confluence Project

The Confluence Project is a public-private partnership to redevelop a blighted area at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers in the heart of the Eau Claire, WI, downtown district. The centerpiece of the project is the construction of a community arts center that meets a significant need for the local arts community. The Confluence Project combines philanthropy with private, state, county and city funds in a true collaboration. In addition to revitalizing prime real estate at the heart of the community, the Confluence Project builds upon existing competitive strengths, further establishes the distinctive artistic nature of the Chippewa Valley and strengthens the creative community as a viable economic development driver. For more information, head to

About Bushmills Irish Whiskey

Bushmills Irish Whiskey enjoys a worldwide reputation as a uniquely authentic Irish whiskey with a heritage spanning four centuries. Bushmills is a premium Irish whiskey, produced, aged and bottled at Ireland's oldest working distillery in Bushmills Village, Co. Antrim, a community where whiskey has been shared among friends since 1608 when the area was first granted an official license to distil. Triple-distilled Bushmills Whiskey is made with the finest malted Irish barley and pure Irish water, and is the only Irish whiskey brand that offers a full range of blends (standard and deluxe) and single malts - all of which share the rich, mellow and distinct Bushmills characteristics: Bushmills; Black Bush, Bushmills 10-Year-Old Single Malt, Bushmills 16-Year-Old Single Malt and the rare Bushmills 21-Year-Old Single Malt.


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