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


MOORHEAD — To many, Richard Szeitz was a silent person, but his art spoke from the heart, expressing gratitude, appreciation and compassion for character and humankind.

No piece of his spoke to a lot more folks than the copper fountain sculpture at West Acres, installed ahead of the opening of the browsing centre 50 several years back this August.

Szeitz died in his slumber on June 27.

He was 92 years previous.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1930, Szeitz arrived at Minnesota State College Moorhead — then acknowledged as Moorhead State Faculty — in 1965 to support create the art department. For the up coming 30 a long time, he remained an influential teacher and chair of the office.

Even following formally retiring, he returned to instruct and donated his profits to the college for pcs in the art and layout division.

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Richard Szeitz pictured in this article in 1996 right after retiring from MSUM.

Forum file picture

Off campus, Szeitz promptly proven himself as a resourceful power in the neighborhood, specially for his fountain models.

When West Acres was being produced

, Szeitz submitted a design and style featuring 4 human figures signing up for palms and lifting them upwards.

“I read absolutely nothing on that 1,” the artist explained to The Discussion board as the shopping mall opened in 1972. “But early this spring I submitted a next design and they liked this option strategy ample to commission it.”

That next structure was called “Fountain of Abundance” and functions 20-foot-tall stalks of wheat with water cascading down to cup-like flowers and then dripping into the beaks of cranes.

“The tall stalks of grain symbolize the backbone of North Dakota’s economy, even now,” Szeitz instructed The Discussion board at the time. The cranes have been meant to exhibit how all residing 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, crafted it in two months in Szeitz’ residence studio on Southwood Generate in Fargo, a assets adorned with his other fountain initiatives.

In a be aware on his Fb page asserting his passing, a former neighbor recalled how Szeitz employed backyard hoses to examination water stream. He would make clear how the piece labored and explain his considered method in making the art.

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

“There’s most likely not a piece of art in the point out noticed by much more folks than this,” Brad Schlossman, CEO of West Acres Advancement, said on Thursday.

Whilst the piece was instantly legendary, points didn’t generally go in accordance to programs.

“There was a surprise. The wheat stalks shot h2o much too large, and it strike the ceiling, so it had to be turned off,” Schlossman mentioned. “Most of the early a long time, it was not fully operational.”

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

Szeitz, then 72, was joyful to assist rework the piece in its new house.


Richard Szeitz will work on the re-installation of his sculpture, “Fountain of Abundance,” at West Acres in 2002.


“He was thrilled to restore it. He was up there on the scaffolding great-tuning it with pipe cleaners to make sure it functioned well,” Schlossman recalls. “When it was turned back again on in all of its total glory, it was a thing that deserved improved and lastly acquired it.”

The piece was the initial operate of artwork West Acres obtained, and the corporation now has a assortment from much more than 200 artists with many of the pieces on long term display in the shopping mall.

“It almost certainly implies distinct items to different individuals, but it does draw persons to it,” Schlossman stated.

An unintended profit of the do the job is that people today, often young children, will toss cash in for excellent luck or to make a wish. Schlossman stated West Acres has collected up about $5,000 in cash each individual year and donated it to folks in will need in the course of the local community, something Szeitz, as soon as a Catholic amateur, would have appreciated.

Szeitz fled his native Hungary at 16 as Communist authorities began arresting teachers, pupils and intellectuals. He finally came to the United States, settling in a Milwaukee monastery and obtaining his Learn of Great Arts at the University of Wisconsin.

His faith remained a section of his artwork, and in 1999 he designed a processional crucifix for Moorhead’s St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. 6 yrs later on, he developed a larger sized crucifix to hold over its altar.

In accordance to a take note on the church’s web site, the crucifixes are uncommon

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

Other examples of Szeitz’s religious artwork involve a crucifix and a statue of Mary and Jesus in the vicinity of the baptismal at Nativity Church of Fargo and a Marian statue exterior of Assumption Church in Barnesville, Minnesota.

In a 1996 job interview with The Discussion board, Szeitz stated building art was as considerably about generating art for himself as it was about producing art for other folks.

“It’s a purging expertise for both of those the maker and the buyer of art,” he reported. “You really feel better by expressing yourself.”


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