Richard Szeitz, creator of West Acres mall fountain sculpture, dies at 92 – InForum


MOORHEAD — To several, Richard Szeitz was a quiet male, but his art spoke from the coronary heart, expressing gratitude, appreciation and compassion for nature and humankind.

No piece of his spoke to extra individuals than the copper fountain sculpture at West Acres, installed prior to the opening of the searching centre 50 decades in the past this August.

Szeitz died in his rest on June 27.

He was 92 a long time old.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1930, Szeitz arrived at Minnesota Point out College Moorhead — then recognized as Moorhead Point out School — in 1965 to enable build the art division. For the future 30 yrs, he remained an influential instructor and chair of the section.

Even following formally retiring, he returned to educate and donated his profits to the school for personal computers in the artwork and design section.

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Richard Szeitz pictured here in 1996 immediately after retiring from MSUM.

Discussion board file picture

Off campus, Szeitz swiftly founded himself as a artistic force in the community, particularly for his fountain models.

When West Acres was remaining formulated

, Szeitz submitted a style and design that includes 4 human figures joining fingers and lifting them upwards.

“I read nothing at all on that 1,” the artist instructed The Forum as the mall opened in 1972. “But early this spring I submitted a 2nd design and style and they liked this option notion sufficient to commission it.”

That 2nd style was referred to as “Fountain of Abundance” and characteristics 20-foot-tall stalks of wheat with drinking water cascading down to cup-like flowers and then dripping into the beaks of cranes.

“The tall stalks of grain symbolize the spine of North Dakota’s overall economy, even now,” Szeitz instructed The Discussion board at the time. The cranes ended up intended to show how all dwelling beings, human and animal, are reliant on nature’s drinking water.


Richard Szeitz’ “Fountain of Abundance” at West Acres in the 1970s.


West Acres commissioned the copper sculpture for $10,000. The artist and a helper, Dean Faye, designed it in two months in Szeitz’ household studio on Southwood Push in Fargo, a residence adorned with his other fountain projects.

In a notice on his Facebook website page announcing his passing, a previous neighbor recalled how Szeitz used yard hoses to take a look at drinking water circulation. He would clarify how the piece labored and demonstrate his assumed procedure in generating the art.

Produced in entrance of what was then Dayton’s — now Macy’s — the sculpture welcomed guests to the shopping mall for 30 years.

“There’s probably not a piece of artwork in the point out found by more folks than this,” Brad Schlossman, CEO of West Acres Improvement, explained on Thursday.

Even though the piece was immediately iconic, items didn’t normally go in accordance to plans.

“There was a surprise. The wheat stalks shot h2o too high, and it hit the ceiling, so it had to be turned off,” Schlossman said. “Most of the early several years, it was not fully operational.”

“Fountain of Abundance” remained in front of Dayton’s right until West Acres underwent transforming in 2001. The sculpture was moved to the renovated JCPenney wing, in which “it has a lot of headroom,” Schlossman explained.

Szeitz, then 72, was content to support rework the piece in its new space.


Richard Szeitz functions on the re-set up of his sculpture, “Fountain of Abundance,” at West Acres in 2002.


“He was thrilled to restore it. He was up there on the scaffolding high-quality-tuning it with pipe cleaners to make guaranteed it functioned perfectly,” Schlossman recollects. “When it was turned again on in all of its whole glory, it was anything that deserved better and finally bought it.”

The piece was the initial function of art West Acres obtained, and the corporation now has a collection from additional than 200 artists with a lot of of the pieces on permanent exhibit in the mall.

“It possibly suggests different factors to diverse folks, but it does attract people today to it,” Schlossman reported.

An unintended reward of the work is that people, generally small children, will throw coins in for excellent luck or to make a want. Schlossman said West Acres has gathered up about $5,000 in coins just about every 12 months and donated it to men and women in want all through the neighborhood, a thing Szeitz, when a Catholic beginner, would have appreciated.

Szeitz fled his indigenous Hungary at 16 as Communist authorities began arresting instructors, college students and intellectuals. He finally came to the United States, settling in a Milwaukee monastery and receiving his Learn of Wonderful Arts at the College of Wisconsin.

His faith remained a part of his artwork, and in 1999 he made a processional crucifix for Moorhead’s St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Six years afterwards, he created a much larger crucifix to hang earlier mentioned its altar.

In accordance to a notice on the church’s web-site, the crucifixes are scarce

, “as they do not portray Christ in agony. His head is wanting straight in advance and his eyes are open up. He is portrayed as alive, wanting out to the congregation, with his arms outstretched in welcome.”

Other examples of Szeitz’s religious artwork incorporate a crucifix and a statue of Mary and Jesus close to the baptismal at Nativity Church of Fargo and a Marian statue outside the house of Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minnesota.

In a 1996 interview with The Forum, Szeitz claimed making art was as much about developing art for himself as it was about generating artwork for many others.

“It’s a purging expertise for both the maker and the buyer of art,” he said. “You sense better by expressing you.”


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