Philip Richard Szeitz - InForum

Philip Richard Szeitz – InForum | Pro Club Bd

Philip Richard Szeitz was born on January 5, 1930 in Budapest, Hungary to Richard Szeitz and Maria Lammel. They lived in Pest, on the hilly side of the Danube.

His father was an architect and builder. His mother was a resourceful housewife who helped her family survive World War II, occupation and worse until Richard’s father died in 1955, then she worked as an administrative clerk in doctors’ offices and in a pharmacy. She remarried and continued to be a pillar of her family, always available to spend time with her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and to engage in various beautiful embroidery and other amazing crafts. She died at the age of 96.

Richard’s early years in the Cistercian school, aged 11 to 18, defined his life in many ways. He received a great ethical and spiritual education while becoming lifelong friends with his fellow students, his Boy Scout troop, and his teachers. He was a very bright boy who organized the Boy Scout bike and model making branch at school. Even after his retirement, Richard still enjoyed kayaking trips to the surrounding lakes or riding his bike with his enthusiastic canine companion, Cooper.

In his early teens, he and his friends greatly admired Native American culture. They made clothing, tools, beaded jewelry, whistles and arrows, and gave themselves names. They read everything they could get their hands on… with their idealistic childish souls, and in his last years his favorite book, read to him by his daughters Lammel and Magda, was his well-worn Hungarian-language copy of Winnetou, Old Shatterhand .

After surviving World War II with his family, he graduated at 18 and left Budapest to attend the Cistercian seminary in Zirc, western Hungary. Unfortunately, just a year later, in 1948, under communist occupation, the seminary and denomination were dissolved, the schools were closed and many Cistercians were imprisoned and died. In September 1950, Richard and 12 of his fellow Cistercians, later known as “The Lucky 13”, were among the first of their order to successfully escape Hungary.

Richard then spent time in Rome, Italy and was posted to the United States in the mid-1950s where he attended the Layton School of Design for his BFA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison for his MS & MFA in Art. He also remained active as a member and leader of the Boy Scouts, organizing field trips, biking, camping and kayaking. He even bought a vehicle to take the Boy Scouts with him on trips.

In 1961 he became a US citizen.

Richard taught at Edgewood College in Madison and from 1960 to 1965 was a professor and then chairman of the art department at the University of Dallas. There he was instrumental in developing their arts program and hiring faculty that advanced his vision.

After much deliberation, Richard decided to leave the Cistercian order. He applied for and received full exemption and continued on good terms with his former brothers and colleagues in the Catholic Church.

In late 1965 he married Patricia Anne McGowan and together they traveled to the Autonomous University of Guadalajara, where he was a Fullbright-Hayes lecturer and consultant. For many years the family enjoyed using the beautiful Tonala pottery collected during their time there.

Richard and Patty then moved north, where Richard found a new home at the University of Minnesota, Moorhead, then known as Moorhead State College, where he served on the faculty of the Art Department from 1966-1997. Richard was a generous teacher and leader. He encouraged the growth and development of a healthy and vibrant arts department, which grew from a few rooms in the corner of the music building to a dedicated building with state-of-the-art facilities for multiple artistic disciplines including art education, art history, drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, Printmaking, photography, illustration and graphic design, with space for students to mix media and move freely between studios. He is still remembered by his many students and colleagues from the more than 30 years he spent as a professional artist and as an art educator and university administrator. Moorhead’s art department was a direct reflection of his heart and soul as an artist and mentor, and his greatest contribution to his community.

Richard was a co-founder of the Lake Agassiz Art Council and its President for a number of years, he also co-founded the Fall Imagination Festivals in the 1970s and served on the board of directors of the Red River Arts Center (predecessor to the Plains Art Museum.) Richard was a delegate of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and served on various committees of the Minnesota State Arts Board from 1996 to 2004. In his later years, Richard and his second wife, Karen Patek Szeitz, were active members of the Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists organization.

Richard and Karen spent many years together traveling nationally and internationally, regularly attending concerts at the Minneapolis Symphony, visiting family, and continuing to create artwork in their home studio.

Richard generously donated many works to local and regional art centers, including the Plains Art Museum, to support local art and art education. He has been honored with exhibitions in the United States and in his former home of Budapest, Hungary.

During his years as an academic and advocate for the arts, he also created many custom, site-specific public and private works of art, including the Flood Memorial in Grand Forks, ND; the copper-colored “Fountain of Abundance” at West Acres Mall in Fargo, ND; “Cluster of Prairie Grasses” at the Buffalo River Regional Science Center near Dilworth, MN; copper reliefs, altar and processional crosses for local churches in Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN; and many more fountains and sculptures throughout the Midwest and United States. He also created bronze medallions honoring faculty and commemorating significant events for local universities, including MSUM and NDSU. Shortly before his own retirement from MSUM, Richard created the plaque for his friend and colleague Roland Dille at the Dille Center for the Arts.

In the early 1960’s Richard received requests to produce some of his paintings in three dimensional form and after his first experiments with welded steel he switched to soldered copper which became his medium of choice. Human figures, animals and biomorphic abstract forms have been used in his works. Sculptural projects dominated his creative output, occasionally punctuated by experimentation with caste bronze, paintings, prints, collages, photography and computer generated or enhanced imagery.

His design expression utilizes symbolism and multi-level communication to convey relatable meaning and ideas. Its content and form take into account the diversity of the viewer’s frame of reference.

Richard spent his final years surrounded by his immediate family and friends and enjoyed FaceTiming with his sister in Budapest, keeping up to date with current events, watching movies, reading, good food and long naps. He died peacefully in his sleep in the home he shared with his daughter and granddaughter in Moorhead, MN.

Richard is survived by his former wife, Patty (McGowan) Sandgren, of Barnesville, MN, and his two daughters: Lammel Szeitz of Las Vegas, NV, and their children, Gabriel (LV) and Sage Rose of Oceanside, CA; and Magda Szeitz and her daughter Quin Sophia, Moorhead, MN. Also by his sister Gabriella Szeitz from Budapest, Hungary, and their daughter Nora Tarczy Novak from Oxford, England, and several great and great grand nieces and nephews. He was preceded by his dear niece, Marta Tarczy.

Richard is also survived by his second wife, Karen Patek Szeitz, who has been his traveling companion and loving wife for the past 25 years, and their daughters, Sarah (Williams) Haug and Elizabeth (Williams) Bercaw, and their spouses and children.

Funeral services for Philip Richard Szeitz will be held at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Moorhead, MN. Visitation at 10am, funeral service at 11am on Wednesday 27 July 2022. A light lunch will be served after the service. The sharing of beautiful memories is encouraged at this time.

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